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Former state lawmaker to tell jurors more about Madigan’s power during ‘ComEd Four’ trial – Chicago Tribune


A former Illinois state representative will return to the witness stand Wednesday in the “ComEd Four” trial, where she describes what it was like to serve in the General Assembly under the leadership of powerful Speaker Michael Madigan.

Former state Rep. Carol Sante, a Vernon Hills Democrat who left the Legislature in 2019, was the first witness called by prosecutors in the hotly contested case that four Madigan associates conspired to bribe the speaker on behalf of the Commonwealth of Edison.

Cente testified that Madigan’s power, especially within her own party, was nearly absolute in the House, where he set the rules, decided who served on various committees and recruited a team of people who constantly pressured members to vote a certain way. .

When asked if she found it difficult to vote independently, which she believed was in the best interest of her district, Sente said, “Very much so.”

“We were told that if we voted wrong, it could be used as campaign fodder in the next election,” she said. “… It was pretty intense.”

Sente is one of several witnesses prosecutors plan to call to educate jurors about the political process of politics and lobbying in Springfield, a world Madigan has dominated for decades during his record-breaking speakership.

The four defendants are McClain, 75, a former ComEd lobbyist; former ComEd CEO Ann Promaggiore, 64; former ComEd lobbyist John Hooker, 73; and Jay Doherty, 69, a lobbyist and consultant who formerly ran the City Club of Chicago.

All four have pleaded not guilty to racketeering conspiracy and other charges, alleging they covered up illegal payments on ComEd’s books.

Madigan, meanwhile, has pleaded not guilty to a separate racketeering indictment that charges him with a series of corruption schemes, including the ComEd bribery conspiracy. McClain is also charged in the case, which is scheduled for trial in April 2024.

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Testimony began Wednesday in the courtroom of U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber after a jury of six men and six women was selected to try the case, which is expected to last up to eight weeks.

In her opening statement, Assistant U.S. Attorney Sarah Stryker said ComEd poured $1.3 million in payments to ghost “subcontractors” who were actually Madigan’s buddies, put a Madigan-backed person on the ComEd board and gave coveted internships to families in his 13th district, it’s all part of an elaborate scheme to keep the speaker happy.

And it worked, Stryker said, because in the scheme’s eight years, Madigan helped ComEd win three lucrative pieces of legislation, including the Smart Grid bill in 2011 and another bill in 2016 that preserved and expanded the rate structure. life of the company’s two nuclear plants.

Meanwhile, attorneys for the defendants argued that the so-called scheme was nothing more than legal lobbying, a high-stakes, often messy piece of public policy where multiple interest groups and stakeholders vie for access to lawmakers.

“This is not a crime or a conspiracy,” said Patrick Cotter, who represents McClain. “And you know what? It’s not even suspicious. This is a profession.”

Cotter also accused “overzealous” investigators of developing tunnel vision in their quest to bring down a major political target in Madigan, which ended up getting it “horribly, tragically wrong.”



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