Feds Close In On Chicago’s Dem Machine Boss, Indict Close Adviser And May Finally Clean Up City’s Political Cesspool

Federal prosecutors are doing the impossible and cleaning up the cesspool of Chicago politics and it looks like they are about to take down the leader of the Dem Chicago machine.

The feds have been slowly rolling up the smaller fish, many of whom wire wires, and they just made their move and indicted one of Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan’s (the boss) closest friend and adviser.

Michael McClain is one of the oldest and most trusted friends of Dem machine boss Madigan and the question now is will he flip?  He was indicted for his role in an alleged extensive bribery scheme involving Commonwealth Edison.

From The Chicago Tribune:

McClain, 73, likely marks the clearest path for investigators if they were to get to Madigan, especially considering the speaker’s well-honed reputation for caution, from avoiding phone and email conversations to leaving much of the day-to-day business of politics to a trusted circle of advisers.

If there’s no direct evidence of Madigan’s participation in the bribery scheme, any case against him could hinge on the testimony of an insider, someone who could give a jury a believable guide to how the operation was conceived and directed, where the money came from and went, and, most importantly, who ultimately benefited.

“You’ve got a guy in McClain who clearly knows where the bodies are buried and where the dollars were sent,” said former federal prosecutor Jeffrey Cramer, now managing director at Berkeley Research Group. “This is the first time we’ve seen someone this close to Mike Madigan facing time in prison. … There is going to be a lot of pressure on McClain to cooperate.”

…McClain now sits in a similar position. Prosecutors alleged in the charges unveiled Wednesday he was the key go-between in a yearslong scheme by ComEd to give contracts, do-nothing jobs and other perks to Madigan loyalists in exchange for the speaker’s influence on legislation in Springfield.

The 50-page indictment lays out in detail how McClain allegedly quarterbacked the operation, pressuring executives at the utility to hire a clout-heavy law firm favored by Madigan and pushing a list of hires from the speaker’s 13th Ward political operation for ComEd’s summer internship program.

Among the evidence against McClain are recorded phone conversations and emails in which McClain allegedly refers to Madigan as “our Friend” and warns his co-defendants — former ComEd CEO Anne Pramaggiore, lobbyist John Hooker, and consultant Jay Doherty — that it was in the utility’s best interest not to disappoint the speaker.

Madigan, 78, has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing. In a lengthy statement Thursday, the speaker said that knowing McClain and the others who’ve been charged, he doubted that any scheme as characterized by the government existed.