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Madigan calls WBEZ report “extremely serious and troubling,” says he had no knowledge

Wednesday, Jan 8, 2020

* Press release…

House Speaker Michael J. Madigan released the following statement Wednesday regarding the Jan. 7 WBEZ story:

“These are extremely serious and troubling allegations. I had no knowledge of the incident referenced in the story and only learned of this today. I encourage those with any information to come forward.”

Um, OK.

Your thoughts? (And that will serve as our Question of the Day.)

- Posted by Rich Miller        

56 Comments
  1. - Donnie Elgin - Wednesday, Jan 8, 20 @ 2:39 pm:

    The news of this alleged incident must not have gotten though all his buffers.


  2. - SSL - Wednesday, Jan 8, 20 @ 2:41 pm:

    Just what I expected. Classic Madigan. The Sargeant Schultz syndrome. I know nothing.


  3. - Just Me 2 - Wednesday, Jan 8, 20 @ 2:44 pm:

    That’s it? That’s all he could muster himself to say? I had no knowledge (aka: don’t blame me).

    You would think after the last year he would have learned something, apparently not.


  4. - Ron Burgundy - Wednesday, Jan 8, 20 @ 2:46 pm:

    Or, perhaps, since you’re not being investigated for anything (ahem), as a very high ranking elected official with an oversight role you could ask your old buddy all about it?


  5. - Nova - Wednesday, Jan 8, 20 @ 2:46 pm:

    It is entirely possible that Madigan did not know about the specific incidents mentioned in the emails, but fully benefited from the perception that McClain was his enforcer and could make things unpleasant for the PQ people. The culture of the Madigan operation is his creation. The adherence to loyalty above anything else, the bullying, the threats. He did not need to know the details, other people took care of it. Sad, and time for it to stop.


  6. - Nick Naylor - Wednesday, Jan 8, 20 @ 2:47 pm:

    “These are not the droids you are looking for …”


  7. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Jan 8, 20 @ 2:47 pm:

    === as a very high ranking elected official with an oversight role you could ask your old buddy all about it? ===

    Yeah - I am sure he has continued talking to McClain despite everything that has gone on.


  8. - Flat Bed Ford - Wednesday, Jan 8, 20 @ 2:49 pm:

    For a man that controls everything he sure seems to not know anything.

    Who didn’t expect the Sgt. Schultz response? Madigan is just so predictable these days. Sorry Mike, do us all a favor and retire already.


  9. - @misterjayem - Wednesday, Jan 8, 20 @ 2:50 pm:

    “I don’t know nothing that you can’t prove.”

    – MrJM


  10. - Centennial - Wednesday, Jan 8, 20 @ 2:52 pm:

    “but fully benefited from the perception that McClain was his enforcer and could make things unpleasant for the PQ people”

    I would bet MJM did not know about this incident. McClain was attempting to fix a situation for a guy from his home town. McClain benefited from the perception here, not MJM.


  11. - Steve - Wednesday, Jan 8, 20 @ 2:52 pm:

    There really wasn’t anything Madigan could have said other than this. Do I think Madigan knew about the rape allegation? No, I just don’t see it. I also think it’s possible that Madigan didn’t know about every ghost payroller in existence .


  12. - thunderspirit - Wednesday, Jan 8, 20 @ 2:52 pm:

    Smell test: failed.

    C’mon, Mike. You can do better than that.


  13. - John Lee Pettimore, III - Wednesday, Jan 8, 20 @ 2:57 pm:

    I am sorry, Mr. Speaker, but your response is thin soup, at best.

    Mike McClain was your number one insider, your consigliere, your frequent dinner companion. Not for a few weeks, not for a few months, but for many years, decades in fact.

    You owe the citizens of this state a better explanation, preferably attached to your letter of resignation.


  14. - Nick Name - Wednesday, Jan 8, 20 @ 2:57 pm:

    “These are extremely serious and troubling allegations. I had no knowledge of the incident referenced in the story and only learned of this today. I encourage those with any information to come forward.

    And boy am I glad I don’t use email.”

    Fixed it for you.


  15. - ILPundit - Wednesday, Jan 8, 20 @ 3:00 pm:

    Two words: Weak Sauce


  16. - T. - Wednesday, Jan 8, 20 @ 3:06 pm:

    This is the second big story in recent weeks related to emails McClain sent to government accounts that were obtained by reporters through FOIA requests. (The other was the Sun-Times story about McClain trying to torpedo Anne Caprara’s appointment as COS.)

    There’s no doubt that several reporters have filed FOIAs asking for copies of any emails McClain has sent to state government accounts. That raises a lot of questions: Does the governor’s office have more McClain emails lined-up for release? Are the JB folks offering friendly suggestions to reporters about what to FOIA? Are emails McClain sent to the Speaker staff’s government accounts FOIA-able? (If I’m not mistaken, the state legislature unsurprisingly exempted themselves from some FOIA requirements. So the answer might be “no.”) But man, if McClain is was unguarded enough to put some of that stuff in writing and send it to the guv’s office, I’d love to see what he was sending his friends in the speaker’s office.


  17. - The Sterminator - Wednesday, Jan 8, 20 @ 3:07 pm:

    I agree with Soccermom: the unreported rape was clearly for the benefit of Pat Quinn. Stermer clearly already knew about it, and given that the only person above Stermer was Quinn, its a safe bet that Stermer okayed it.

    There was “no love lost” between Madigan and Quinn, i kind of doubt there was anything for him to gain. on the otherhand, i can see McClain holding onto this information for his own use. As previously suggested, it seems he had a habit of representing his own interests as The Speaker’s interests.

    Whay did Stermer know and when did he know it?


  18. - NotMe - Wednesday, Jan 8, 20 @ 3:08 pm:

    The not knowing is a feature, not a bug.


  19. - Robert the Bruce - Wednesday, Jan 8, 20 @ 3:11 pm:

    I’m not sure what else he’s supposed to say. He had to deny knowing about this, lest he be forced to resign.

    Regardless of whether he knew what happened in Champaign, MJM developed and encouraged this culture of fear, loyalty and silence. He should be held responsible.


  20. - Anon y mouse - Wednesday, Jan 8, 20 @ 3:11 pm:

    “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney (Ha!!), one will be provided for you.” #DripDripDrip


  21. - Paul Powell's Shoebox - Wednesday, Jan 8, 20 @ 3:13 pm:

    Madigan is just lying here, he knows exactly what “the most trusted of the trusted” are doing, every day all day. There might be a buffer or no direct trail, but someone who is that in control just doesn’t not know. To channel the great native philosopher, unknown unknowns do not exist in Himself’s world


  22. - Nagidam - Wednesday, Jan 8, 20 @ 3:21 pm:

    My bet is that the Speaker knew about the two felonies that supposedly happened. I would bet that there are many people beside him in Illinois government that know about two felonies. Governor Pritzker was correct to forward these allegations to the proper authorities. Good for him. The facts need to be verified and then acted on if true. If true, there will be tremendous fallout throughout Illinois Government. This is not a small revelation. But this is not solely a “Madigan” Story. What seems to be missing in the discussion is what did former Governor Quinn and his two key advisors know that are on the email chain. While this is a stunning email from Mike McClain, as stated before, he weaponized information that he already knew about. This information seems to have had an effect on Quinn Administration officials enough that they chose to not take actions against the individual McClain was helping because of the facts of the email. This is a bigger Quinn administration story. They stopped punishment of an employee to hide specific felonies from potentially coming to light that would have been bad for Pat Quinn.


  23. - Danville's Finest - Wednesday, Jan 8, 20 @ 3:21 pm:

    He may have had data. Could have had information. But we should give him the benefit of doubt when he says he had no knowledge; he has never seemed to demonstrate a whiff of wisdom (for all you DIKW hierarchy fans out there).


  24. - Rutro - Wednesday, Jan 8, 20 @ 3:22 pm:

    What happens when McClain flips?


  25. - Moe Berg - Wednesday, Jan 8, 20 @ 3:25 pm:

    Despite the undeniably close relationship between the two, it is at least in the realm of reasonable possibility that on some items McClain was freelancing.

    Madigan is not omnipotent, even if sometimes portrayed as such.

    There’s also the reasonably possibility that some of those he trusted to behave ethically and/or lawfully betrayed him, acting without his knowledge. If so, placing trust in such individuals was obviously a gravely serious mistake.

    Without question, all efforts must be undertaken to determine what may have happened with regard to the disturbing issues raised by the email.


  26. - Anon-ka-donk - Wednesday, Jan 8, 20 @ 3:30 pm:

    @Moe Berg, while McClain isn’t “omnipotent ” as you suggest, but as my Grandma used to say: “you’re judged by the company you keep”.


  27. - Downstate - Wednesday, Jan 8, 20 @ 3:33 pm:

    Madigan and Quinn have a notoriously rocky relationship. While I find it plausible that the Speaker doesn’t have knowledge of the incident, I find it “extremely serious and troubling” that this was all he could put together for a statement. It’s time for him to either step up on these issues or step down as Speaker.


  28. - DuPage Saint - Wednesday, Jan 8, 20 @ 3:35 pm:

    Any word from Quinn?


  29. - Ron Burgundy - Wednesday, Jan 8, 20 @ 3:42 pm:

    —Any word from Quinn?—

    He denied knowledge of any of it in the original WBEZ story.


  30. - Moe Berg - Wednesday, Jan 8, 20 @ 3:44 pm:

    @ Anon-ka-donk - I agree with your grandma. At the same time, I’m mindful that sometimes in life, the person you thought you knew isn’t who they are in reality.

    Until proven, we just have speculation about who knew what and when or motivated reasoning that assumes Madigan did know.

    So, sure, if you continue to associate with someone of known bad character, you will be judged for it.

    I don’t know, myself, what the truth is. I do know that hindsight bias is an easy mental trap into which to fall.

    For myself, I can only reserve judgment and see where the chips may fall.


  31. - Anon-ka-donk - Wednesday, Jan 8, 20 @ 3:44 pm:

    Where is the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun Times in re to this story? How about WBBM, WLS, WMAQ, WFLD or WGN for that matter? Why is WBEZ the only one carrying this story in Chicago?


  32. - Back to the Future - Wednesday, Jan 8, 20 @ 3:58 pm:

    I find it very hard to believe Jerry Stermer
    was involved in covering up crimes.
    It just doesn’t make sense to me.
    Glad that the Pritzker folks had the good sense to send McClain packing.


  33. - Nagidam - Wednesday, Jan 8, 20 @ 3:59 pm:

    Madigan is to McClain as Quinn is to Stermer/Hannig. Madigan and Quinn knew but the Quinn administration is the only one in an email breaking the law.


  34. - phocion - Wednesday, Jan 8, 20 @ 4:05 pm:

    House Democrats should recognize that this horrific news hobbles their Speaker permanently. The Governor can easily ignore even reasonable requests from members of the caucus as long as this cancer lingers. Media will be hard pressed to be sympathetic. Suburban women will begin to wonder where their best interests really lie. This one cannot be ignored and will not go away. It sickens me, and I know I am not alone feeling that way.


  35. - The Sterminator - Wednesday, Jan 8, 20 @ 4:13 pm:

    === I find it very hard to believe Jerry Stermer
    was involved in covering up crimes. ===

    I find it very hard to believe that someone could eat 74 hotdogs and buns in ten minutes too, but I can read.

    I mean, I suppose it’s possible Stermer was really busy that day and never opened the email about the rape thingy so he could respond to it.

    Or maybe WBEZ forgot to ask for or failed to receive the email response from Stermer to McClain saying “I have no idea what rape you are talking about.”

    I am sure there are other theories.

    But, Occam’s Razor.


  36. - Anon-ka-donk - Wednesday, Jan 8, 20 @ 4:13 pm:

    @Moe Berg =At the same time, I’m mindful that sometimes in life, the person you thought you knew isn’t who they are in reality.=

    I might say that about an acquaintance who “fooled me once”, but we’re talking about a man (Madigan) who put all his faith in another (McClain) for decades. Mike Madigan knows all about Mike McClain, make no mistake.

    This is no one-off relationship where Madigan was taken off guard by something “untoward” McClain may have done. This is serious stuff.


  37. - Captain Something - Wednesday, Jan 8, 20 @ 4:14 pm:

    That’s it?

    The guy is the seat of power in the state and he has no comment about the ghost payroll comment.

    His omission is informing.

    We already know that’s one of the core issues with the CommEd issues.


  38. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Jan 8, 20 @ 4:26 pm:

    === Mike Madigan knows all about Mike McClain, make no mistake.===

    The “I know” crowd speaks. Ugh.

    Watch what *does* happen.

    Reading every electeds response, powerful as many are, they still are holding back enough to not go over their skis.

    These emails, including this one, continue to show seedy and awful choices and decisions.

    I’ve yet to hear someone, publicly, say “McClain is exactly who I thought he was in these emails”

    Maybe I missed it, but not one has said that, publicly

    === How about WBBM, WLS, WMAQ, WFLD or WGN for that matter? Why is WBEZ the only one carrying this story in Chicago?===

    It can’t be Arnold, McKinney, etc, at WBEZ are just really good and they got on this story and their talent is shining thru?

    Ginning up phony angst instead of applauding is disingenuous to the work being done.


  39. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Jan 8, 20 @ 4:33 pm:

    ===Why is WBEZ the only one carrying this story in Chicago?===

    Now that statements are out, I would expect more coverage.


  40. - Moe Berg - Wednesday, Jan 8, 20 @ 4:33 pm:

    @ Anon-ka-donk: cinema, theater and literature are filled with stories of people betrayed by people they thought they knew.

    What it means to be a human, in part, is to be a creature who trusts. Trust isn’t really a consideration for non-hominid species on this planet.

    Everyday in big and small ways we place trust in others. Sometimes, we are let down.

    Your interpretation may be right, but you cannot know for certain it is at this moment.

    As you say, this is most certainly serious stuff. For myself, I resist judgment until more facts are known.


  41. - Ginhouse Tommy - Wednesday, Jan 8, 20 @ 4:37 pm:

    Kind of hard to believe that someone who knows everything that goes on under the dome suddenly missed this. Makes you wonder what other bones were buried if you know what I mean.


  42. - Back to the Future - Wednesday, Jan 8, 20 @ 4:39 pm:

    Hear you on Jerry Stermer.
    I have not seen him for years, but he always seemed like a
    an honest fellow. Rest assured if I wrong about someone in politics it won’t be the first time.
    This McClain seems toxic. Reading his emails I am surprised anyone had anything to do with him.


  43. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Jan 8, 20 @ 4:41 pm:

    As I said… https://www.chicagotribune.com/politics/ct-springfield-lobbyist-mike-mcclain-emails-20200108-ty7zc3psifb2vbhnkbcf5lu5tq-story.html


  44. - OneMan - Wednesday, Jan 8, 20 @ 4:42 pm:

    “The incident” well it seems there are several incidents referenced in the email.

    Which one didn’t you know about and which ones did you know about.


  45. - Anon-ka-donk - Wednesday, Jan 8, 20 @ 4:44 pm:

    You’re right. The Trib showed up as you suspected. But it was a story all day and they were late was my point. I think this is an explosive story.


  46. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Jan 8, 20 @ 4:47 pm:

    === Now that statements are out, I would expect more coverage.===

    Yeah.

    WBEZ has done a great job getting the story out, the next level of this story is the continuing reax going forward, and following these electeds to more emails (I gonna go on a limb and say this is probably not the last email we’ll see) and the fallout.

    There’s also ongoing investigations (I guessing they’re ongoing) by the Feds might shed more light if they ever get to a public step in the process.


  47. - Charlie Brown - Wednesday, Jan 8, 20 @ 4:51 pm:

    it’s a political story as old as Ceasar and Brutus.


  48. - Charlie Brown - Wednesday, Jan 8, 20 @ 4:53 pm:

    Et tu, McClain?


  49. - Etown - Wednesday, Jan 8, 20 @ 4:58 pm:

    Please do the right thing and step down Mr Speaker.

    You have become an embarrassment and despite what you and your enablers think, the state will actually survive and be much better off without you in government anymore.


  50. - low level - Wednesday, Jan 8, 20 @ 5:12 pm:

    “Jones’ ghost payrollers”.
    The least surprising part of the whole episode.


  51. - Really - Wednesday, Jan 8, 20 @ 5:45 pm:

    I can’t believe that there are any people in this state that are still surprised by stuff like this.


  52. - Mike - Wednesday, Jan 8, 20 @ 6:21 pm:

    for being in charge of basically everything political in the state he sure doesn’t know a lot.


  53. - Smitty Irving - Wednesday, Jan 8, 20 @ 6:26 pm:

    Ron Burgundy -
    IF you are tempted to believe Quinn’s denial, please read the OEIG report on IDOT https://www.northernpublicradio.org/post/report-idot-improperly-hired-250-workers


  54. - 17% Solution - Thursday, Jan 9, 20 @ 8:30 am:

    “For a man that controls everything he sure seems to not know anything.” and “Kind of hard to believe that someone who knows everything that goes on under the dome suddenly missed this.” and “ for being in charge of basically everything political in the state he sure doesn’t know a lot.”

    That’s the problem with y’all. You believe the myth that Madigan is this all powerful all knowing being, like God. He isn’t God. He’s just a man.


  55. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Thursday, Jan 9, 20 @ 9:04 am:

    Who is Sargeant Schultz?


  56. - A Guy - Thursday, Jan 9, 20 @ 10:09 am:

    Surprised the response didn’t include, “This was on Mapes watch. Sure glad I got rid of him”.


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