* We talked about this yesterday…
Defense attorneys have told a judge overseeing the federal bribery case involving members of former House Speaker Michael Madigan’s inner circle that prosecutors are on the “brink” of filing a superseding indictment in the case.
Such an indictment could mean additional charges and more defendants in the case.
“We know they are apparently on the brink of a superseding indictment. When are they going to tell us?” attorney Michael Monico said during a teleconference Wednesday with U.S. District Court Judge Harry Leinenweber to discuss the case.
Monico represents onetime ComEd vice president John Hooker, one of four defendants in the case.
* But this story broke while I was at the Capitol, so I decided to wait until today to post it…
At least two former Illinois House Democrats have gone before the federal grand jury within the last week to explain the full scope of Madigan’s power and control of the legislative process while he was speaker, according to sources familiar with the investigation.
At least one of the lawmakers had changed a vote on the House floor that opposed a key piece of ComEd legislation and then supported Gov. Pat Quinn’s veto of the measure, a source said.
The ex-lawmakers themselves were not accused of doing anything improper but were asked a series of questions about the basic way the House operated under Madigan, a source said.
In addition, a third former lawmaker told the Tribune they were recently interviewed by federal authorities, and said questions included “Madigan’s role in the process” about ComEd and other issues.
That second paragraph is more than a little obtuse. The 2011 “Smart Grid” override received more votes than the bill did when it initially passed. But it’s possible that the excerpt is referring to a cleanup “trailer bill” that also included some consumer protections. That proposal was called for a vote the same day as the veto override motion. From the next day’s subscriber edition…
The real heart of the matter here is that all four legislative leaders strongly supported the legislation. That’s a tough combo to beat. And, as usual in cases like this, House Speaker Michael Madigan’s backing was crucial. Madigan has whacked ComEd, Exelon and Ameren quite a few times in the past. His proudest legislative achievement was creating the Illinois Power Agency in the wake of huge electric rate hikes. He believed the IPA would force the lower rates that the Illinois Commerce Commission couldn’t provide. Madigan is a former ICC attorney, and believes he understands the weaknesses on both sides of the never-ending regulatory battles. Madigan’s aides say he believes the ICC has failed miserably to upgrade the state’s aging electrical infrastructure, so he was open to ComEd’s proposal. The fact that his best friend and top ComEd lobster Mike McClain made this issue an almost obsessive priority probably didn’t hurt the company’s cause. Madigan has told McClain “No” several times in the past, but the Speaker more than just relented on this one. He worked in favor of it.
The Speaker asked some of his members this week to support the trailer bill. The bill was abruptly called for a vote yesterday while about 20 of Madigan’s members were attending a budget briefing. Madigan’s staff voted most of the absent legislators “Yes,” except, of course, for their political targets. The members hurried back to the floor, but by then it was too late. The bill had already passed with 91 votes. One Democrat after another subsequently rose to ask that their “Yes” votes be changed to “No” in the House Journal.