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McClain roundup

Tuesday, Jan 14, 2020 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Kristen McQueary spent some time going through lobbyist expenditure reports and then wrote about several legislators who had meals with Mike McClain

His lobbyist expenditure reports show a long list of regular breakfast, lunch, drink and dinner companions at Springfield bars and restaurants. Honestly, he should have put up a sleeping cot at Saputo’s or Sangamo Club and skipped the walk to his hotel each night. Would have been more efficient.

He actually had an apartment in town. But, she’s right, he was out and about every day. And he was one of those people who refused to allow anyone else to pick up a tab. Wait staff would always side with him because he brought in so much business. The only exception was Speaker Madigan, who almost never allows anyone to buy his meals.


Of course there’s nothing wrong with lobbyists taking lawmakers to dinner. It’s what they do.

But the trail of relationship-building shows why all of Springfield suffered a wave of nausea when the Tribune first reported that the feds had raided McClain’s house and recorded his phone conversations. It’s why so many players in Springfield are tiptoeing along the marble corridors of the Capitol and nibbling their fingernails.

McClain was Madigan’s guy. That gave McClain power. It gave him access. He knew everybody. He worked with everybody.

It must be isolating to be McClain now. Because nobody wants to be linked to Mr. Everybody.

* Press release excerpt from the Illinois Democratic Women and Chicago NOW….

It is time to shine a bright light on why Mike McClain had so much political power in Springfield. McClain emailed two of the most senior officials in state government referencing rape and a coverup as well as ghost payrolling without fear of any negative consequence. McClain’s email is further evidence of unscrupulous behavior in our state capital which harms women and everyone who calls Illinois home. The women of Illinois will no longer tolerate this kind of abuse of power within our political system. McClain’s actions and those who have enabled him put our state’s future at risk. The time is up on this toxic culture in Springfield.

* From Sen. Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) on yesterday’s collateral damage…

John Sullivan is one of the very best legislators that I have ever had the privilege to serve with in the legislature. What he brought to the Senate and then as director of Ag was a true public service mindset and a desire to do right. As a farmer – legislator, he brought a unique perspective that made a difference for the people he represented and for the State of Illinois. John was the perfect person for the governor to choose as his Ag Department Director. His leaving that office is a loss for the state.

* Related…

* WBEZ: Pritzker’s Agriculture Secretary Resigns In Fallout From ‘Rape In Champaign’ Email

* Sun-Times: Pritzker’s agriculture chief ousted over ‘rape’ email he now says he ‘simply did not read’ in its entirety

* WGN: Pritzker’s Dept. of Agriculture director out following email scandal

* AP: Ag chief resigns over email controversy

* Tribune: Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s agriculture chief resigns over his handling of ‘rape in Champaign’ email, governor’s office says

* Capitol News Illinois: Sullivan resigns as ag director at governor’s request

* Center Square: Pritzker fires Illinois Ag Director who knew of 2012 ‘rape in Champaign’ email

* Telegraph: Elik wants Bristow to comment on 2012 email


  1. - Norseman - Tuesday, Jan 14, 20 @ 10:27 am:

    My Tweet:

    I respectfully disagree @SenatorKoehler. We have an ethics crisis in this country. Sullivan can be replaced. His departure will send a clear message about the importance of ethical behavior. Even more so in that it happened to a highly acclaimed legislator. Learn from it.

    If a legislator, elected executive, legislative staffer, political appointee and exempt staff were smart, they would take this example and put in place procedures to identify and report questionable ethical behavior. If not, don’t come up with excuses or whine when not reporting unethical behavior bites you in the political posterior.

  2. - Been There - Tuesday, Jan 14, 20 @ 10:58 am:

    ===And he was one of those people who refused to allow anyone else to pick up a tab. Wait staff would always side with him because he brought in so much business.====

    I was wondering how McSweeny’s name got on his expenditure reports. We tried to just include him in a round of drinks and he was adamant about paying for his own.

  3. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Jan 14, 20 @ 11:05 am:

    ===We tried to just include him in a round of drinks and he was adamant about paying for his own===

    You just couldn’t win with McClain. I would do things like get up from the table during dinner and tell the person waiting on us to put it on my account, and he’d always have it reversed. It was like an obsession.

  4. - RNUG - Tuesday, Jan 14, 20 @ 11:05 am:

    == And he was one of those people who refused to allow anyone else to pick up a tab. ==

    I had a standing rule that I would alternate buying meals with anyone outside government I met with, paying out of my own pocket. If the other person wasn’t OK with that, then we didn’t meet at meal time.

  5. - Annonin - Tuesday, Jan 14, 20 @ 11:21 am:

    Katrina almost blows the secret connected with all this…”It’s unclear where these inquiries will lead.”

  6. - SAP - Tuesday, Jan 14, 20 @ 11:24 am:

    ==It must be isolating to be McClain now. Because nobody wants to be linked to Mr. Everybody.== So isolating that McClain has to hang out at out of the way little joints like Chicago Cut Steakhouse.

  7. - Downstater - Tuesday, Jan 14, 20 @ 11:25 am:

    “Elik wants Bristow to respond” - So now every single Dem running for office is presumed to know about this email ? Why would a Metro East Rep be presumed to know about Ashby or the email? Seems like a stretch. I get it, an opportunity for Elik to hit Bristow and tie her to Madigan. But sheesh, every Rep doesn’t know every person in State government. If she were from Quincy, maybe, but she’s not.

  8. - Howard - Tuesday, Jan 14, 20 @ 11:37 am:

    I am sure John Sullivan did not ask to be copied on Mike McClain’s emails but is now guilty by association. I know others on McClain’s infamous emails were not consulted prior to being included or copied. What goes around comes around Mike..

  9. - Sayitaintso - Tuesday, Jan 14, 20 @ 12:13 pm:

    Caesar always bestowed lavish gifts/favors to anyone who might one day help him in some way. McClain is no Caesar, but his methods/reasons are similar. We speak of Caesar 2,000 years after his death - I doubt McClain will have that kind of historical reach.

  10. - FHAnalyst - Tuesday, Jan 14, 20 @ 1:33 pm:

    It is poor journalistic practice to continuously link McClain to MJM, for whatever McClain did independently in the past and to this day. Mike McClain is linked to practically every legislator in his capacity as a lobbyist, and probably more closely to some than others. Those relationships do not necessarily mean there is responsibility on the part of all persons McClain has dealt with in the course of legislative and non-legislative affairs. I worked closely with Mike McClain in the past and it was a professional relationship, which does not mean that I am in anyway responsible for his actions then or today. Journalists should focus strictly on his personal responsibility, rather than presuming that legislative leaders share culpability, be it MJM, BFC, Lang, or any of the others who were either colleagues or associates of Mike McClain during his long tenure working as a legisator or lobbyist.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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