Particulars of Madigan’s former political director are pushing from the spokesman’s workplace for a significant ComEd invoice
CHICAGO As with many main legislative efforts in Springfield, former Illinois Home Speaker Mike Madigans was closely concerned within the Future Power Jobs Act negotiations in 2015 and 2016.
FEJA had many supporters in environmental circles and arranged labor, two main Democratic constituencies in Illinois. However there have been additionally many critics, together with those that stated the regulation was basically a state-funded bailout for Exelon, the facility technology firm that was additionally the dad or mum firm of electrical utility Commonwealth Edison.
The controversial passage of laws by the Common Meeting in late 2016 is on the coronary heart of federal prosecutors’ principle that three ex-lobbyists and ComEd’s former CEO are behind a years-long bribery scheme designed to ingratiate themselves with Madigan.
4 lobbyists, Mike McClain, John Hooker and Jay Doherty, and ex-CEO Anne Pramaggiore have been indicted on almost two dozen counts of bribery and racketeering in November 2020. Prosecutors declare they organized jobs and contracts inside ComEd for Madigan’s political allies in trade for assist with Springfield utilities’ legislative priorities.
And on Thursday, the jury bought a glimpse of what was then Madigan’s workplace, via 4 hours of testimony from Madigan’s former political director, together with recordings of bugged telephone calls and emails amongst prime officers for the speaker.
Will Cousineau, who’s now a contract lobbyist in Springfield for Washington, DC-based Cornerstone Authorities Affairs, had beforehand spent almost 18 years in Madigan orbit. He labored his manner up from county clerk within the late Nineteen Nineties to political director for the state Democratic Get together and at last senior advisor to Madigan by mid-2017.
Six months earlier than his departure, Cousineau had been an integral a part of the technique behind passing FEJA. On Thursday, as a part of an immunity take care of prosecutors, he informed the jury the ultimate stretch earlier than lawmakers voted on the invoice.
Assistant U.S. Legal professional Diane MacArthur confirmed Cousineau an e mail he obtained from one other senior official in Madigan’s workplace on the primary day of the annual Common Meeting veto session within the fall of mid-November 2016.
The e-mail involved third-term congressman Michelle Mussman, of the suburb of Schaumburg, whose district Cousineau stated was thought-about peppy, leaving her susceptible to a Republican opponent. Mussman, together with different principally suburban and lower-state members of the Home Democratic Caucus, was usually stated to be on the goal listing, which means Madigans’ employees intently watched their legislative positions to defend them from voices from the Speaker and his group, who’re thought-about political dangerous.
Mussman is the vice chair of the Power Committee and the Exelon/ComEd invoice shall be launched tomorrow, his colleague Craig Willert wrote in his e mail to Cousineau. I do not know if we wish to vote on this, however ought to we unseat Mussman?
Cousineau confirmed to MacArthur that Mussman was quickly faraway from the Home Power Committee throughout the panel vote on FEJA. Cousineau testified that this was a joint strategic transfer by Madigan’s workplace, both as a result of they knew a selected committee member didn’t assist a invoice vital to the Speaker, or to guard members from a politically dangerous vote.
On this case, Cousineau stated that a part of the spokesman’s workplace’s political calculation on FEJA additionally needed to do with a 3rd issue: Governor Bruce Rauner. By this level, Madigan had been battling Republican governor for a time period for nearly two years, and Illinois was within the midst of an prolonged deadlock, ensuing within the state going 736 days and not using a finances.
We have been conscious Home Democrats did not appear to be we have been going to get in the way in which of something Gov. Rauner wished, Cousineau stated of FEJA. We had fought [with the governor for a number of years but] That is one thing we strategically determined that we wished to appear to be we have been cooperating with the governor.
Simply earlier than lawmakers returned to Springfield after Thanksgiving, Cousineau and two different senior staffers in Madigan’s workplace obtained an e mail from McClain, ComEds’ prime contract lobbyist and a really shut good friend of the speaker.
As common, we’re shedding some members for subsequent week, McClain wrote, itemizing 4 members of the Home of Representatives who must be passed by the tip of the three-day session. If it is applicable and you are feeling comfy providing the opposite names that is probably not in Springfield, I would admire it.
Cousineau responded with an extra identify of a member of the home whose presence was within the air.
On Thursday, Cousineau testified that he did not assume FEJA had the votes to go and had a telephone dialog with Madigan telling him so. He then knowledgeable the speaker that his workplace wanted to liaise immediately with caucus members who have been undecided about voting for the invoice.
I do not bear in mind the precise phrases, however after Madigan, after some back-and-forth, requested me to deal with the invoice, Cousineau testified, including that he believed McClain was with the announcer on the time of the decision.
MacArthur requested Cousineau who the members of the Home of Representatives bought the actual message from?
“They knew I labored for the speaker,” Cousineau replied, confirming that the members knew he and his fellow leaders have been working underneath his path.
In the long run, FEJA handed 63 votes within the Home of Representatives, three votes greater than the required minimal threshold and had a mixture of Democrats and Republicans. After passage within the Senate, the invoice went to Rauner, who signed it lower than per week later.
Below cross-examination, McClain’s lawyer challenged the insinuations MacArthur made throughout their questioning concerning the name directing Cousineau to deal with the invoice.
So in that large, dramatic dialog, the speaker basically requested you to do your job, simply as you had achieved many instances earlier than, McClain lawyer Patrick Cotter stated. It wasn’t drama, it was Tuesday. It was simply one other day at be just right for you.
Cousineau confirmed with a small qualifier.
Sure, he stated. I imply, that was an enormous vote, however there have been a number of large votes.
MacArthur additionally questioned Consineau why McClain, a non-public lobbyist not employed by the spokesman’s workplace, was included as a member of the strategic group that met frequently on FEJA in 2015 and 2016.
Cousineau responded that he believed McClain was included in these emails, conferences, and calls as a result of he was each a ComEd consultant and a trusted good friend and advisor to Madigan for many years.
MacArthur additionally performed the jury a recording of a tapped name from McClain’s cellular phone in late 2018. In that decision, the Speaker and his prime three aides had been strategizing for the project of committee chairs and management roles inside the Home Democratic Caucus forward of the beginning of the brand new Common Meeting in January 2019.
Additionally included in that decision have been McClain, Cousineau and Madigan’s former chief lawyer, who left the speaker’s workplace earlier within the yr to do lobbying work. By this time Cousineau had been a non-public lobbyist for nearly a yr and a half.
In one other tape, performed to the jury from an April 2018 wiretapped name, McClain requested Cousineau how he discovered the darkish facet, a time period he usually used to seek advice from lobbying, significantly when the lobbyist was in authorities service had left.
Counsineau responded that it was aggravating however differently, including that years of campaigning had been good coaching.
So long as we bear in mind who our actual shopper is, McClain stated.
Oh sure, interjected Cousineau.
“It isn’t straightforward, however it mitigates it,” McClain continued.
When requested who McClain was referring to in that decision, Cousineau confirmed that the actual buyer was Madigan. The jury had heard from earlier recordings and seen in earlier letters that McClain had usually referred to the speaker as his true shopper.
Below cross-examination, McClain’s lawyer tried to contextualize the recording for the jury and questioned Cousineau on a key lobbying tenet: relationships.
You did not have to do something unlawful or flawed to have a great relationship with Speaker Madigan since you already had a relationship with him primarily based in your 18 years, Cotter stated.
Cousineau backed Cotter’s competition, having already agreed with the lawyer that, as Cotter put it, a great relationship with probably the most highly effective particular person within the Common Meeting was important to the success of any lobbyist engaged on main laws.
And Mike McClain had 40 years of friendship, Cotter stated, pausing his questioning for impression.
The trial will resume at 10 a.m. Monday.
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