FILE - Court Law Litigation Lawsuit Email Computer Access Internet Bid Auction

(The Center Square) – An ally of former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan doesn't want a jury to hear about a 2012 email he sent that mentioned an alleged rape in Champaign and fraudulent payroll practices. 

Michael McClain, a former state lawmaker, longtime lobbyist and close confidante of Madigan, asked the judge in his corruption trial to bar any evidence related to the email. McClain's attorneys also want to bar any mention of the $23 million that AT&T Illinois paid to the federal government as part of a 2022 deferred prosecution agreement related to the company’s efforts to influence Madigan.

In October 2022, AT&T Illinois agreed to pay $23 million as part of an agreement with prosecutors. The company admitted it arranged for payments to be made to a Madigan ally to influence the former speaker and help the company with state legislation, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Illinois.

McClain sent the email to members of then-Gov. Pat Quinn's staff. In the email, McClain vouched for Forrest Ashby, a longtime state employee facing a disciplinary hearing who had "kept his mouth shut" about the alleged rape and ghost payroll practices.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker later fired Illinois Department of Agriculture Director John Sullivan for failing to take action regarding the lobbyist's 2012 email. The governor's office said that Sullivan, as a state senator in 2012, knew about the email but did nothing. Sullivan said he never read the entire email while running for election and dealing with health issues. The allegations were at the end of the email.

The governor referred the matter to the Office of the Executive Inspector General into the allegations in the email.

"This evidence is irrelevant and inadmissible," attorneys Patrick Cotter and David Niemeier wrote in the motion.

McClain is charged with conspiracy and bribery. He has pleaded "not guilty." Former ComEd CEO Anne Pramaggiore, former ComEd lobbyist John Hooker, and former ComEd consultant Jay Doherty also have pleaded "not guilty" in the case. 

Investigative Reporter

Brett Rowland is an award-winning journalist who has worked as an editor and reporter in newsrooms in Illinois and Wisconsin. He is an investigative reporter for The Center Square.