Speaker Madigan, top allies named in new federal subpoena served on southwest suburb

The feds are looking for records involving a former ComEd lobbyist, Mike Madigan and Ald. Marty Quinn, among others.

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Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan speaks at a news conference in Springfield in 2017.

Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan speaks at a news conference in Springfield in 2017.

AP file photo

Illinois House Speaker Michael J. Madigan and several of his closest political allies are named in a new federal subpoena seeking records on a former ComEd lobbyist and his consulting work for a tiny southwestern suburb, the Chicago Sun-Times has learned.

A significant focus of the subpoena is Raymond T. Nice – a longtime campaign worker for Madigan’s Southwest Side Democratic organization who became an “independent contractor” for the village of Merrionette Park in 2015, according to records and interviews.

Delivered by an IRS agent and dated Friday, the subpoena asks Merrionette Park officials for copies of contracts with Nice, as well as invoices “and payment records, including but not limited to records that explain the purpose(s) and work product for which payment was made, records of wire transfers, copies of checks (front and back) and/or records of cash payments.”

The subpoena also asks that, by March 4, village officials turn over all “correspondence with, or other communications (such as internal email messages) documenting communications with, Michael Madigan, Michael McClain, Timothy Mapes, Kevin Quinn and/or Marty Quinn.”

The records are still being gathered and have yet to be turned over to federal authorities, according to village attorney Burt Odelson, who said it doesn’t appear at this point that anyone at the village did anything wrong. “If there’s anything there, it’s on Ray Nice’s part.”

McClain is one of Madigan’s longest, closest advisors who’s also served as a lobbyist for ComEd and recently told WBEZ that federal agents asked him to cooperate in their investigation delving into ComEd and its relationship with political power brokers. In the interview, McClain suggested he wasn’t cooperating.

Screen_Shot_2020_02_19_at_7.36.28_PM.png

Michael McClain

State records

That investigation is focusing, at least in part, on whether Madigan put the arm on the utility giant – which the Legislature helps regulate – to hire certain lobbyists who then did little or no work.

Mapes was Madigan’s legislative chief of staff until he was ousted in 2018 amid complaints about bullying, harassing behavior toward state workers.

Kevin Quinn was also forced from his role as a political operative for Madigan after he was accused of repeatedly sexually harassing staffer Alaina Hampton.

Quinn’s brother, Ald. Marty Quinn, represents Madigan’s 13th Ward in the City Council.

“This is a surprise to him, and he has never been contacted by anyone,” a spokeswoman for Marty Quinn said.

Ald. Marty Quinn (13th) attends the Finance Committee meeting before the full Chicago City Council meeting at City Hall in June 2019.

Ald. Marty Quinn (13th) attends the Finance Committee meeting before the full Chicago City Council meeting at City Hall in June 2019.

Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

A Madigan spokesman couldn’t be reached for comment.

Reached Wednesday by a reporter, Nice said, “Thank you for the call, but I don’t want to comment. Thank you.”

Nice has been on the payroll for Madigan-run political organizations since 2006, according to Illinois State Board of Elections records, which show he was paid more than $4,500 since then.

Starting in 2015, he worked as an “independent contractor” for Merrionette Park, a suburb on the edge of the Far Southwest Side with a population of just under 2,000.

The recently retired mayor of the suburb, Dennis Magee, said Nice was hired as a consultant to help him with “business development,” among other tasks.

Asked what the feds are looking for, he said over the phone, “I have no idea, I have no idea what’s going on with Ray Nice.”

Ray Nice

Ray Nice

County records

But Magee insisted that neither Madigan nor his people muscled him into hiring Nice, and that Nice completed whatever work he was hired to do. “He did, yeah, so far as I know,” Magee said.

How did Magee come to hire Nice, who used to work at the Cook County recorder of deeds office?

“I used to golf with him,” according to Magee, who served as the suburb’s mayor for more than 20 years.

Magee’s replacement, Mayor Jose Nevarez, said Nice ended his work for the village in December, while Magee retired at the end of January and Nevarez took over Feb. 1.

Referring to the subpoena, Nevarez said, “We got it and we’re complying.”

After leaving his county job, Nice became a ComEd lobbyist, reporting to City Club of Chicago leader Jay Doherty, who was also a ComEd lobbyist, as WBEZ reported in December. Nice halted that lobbying work after federal agents visited City Club offices, the radio station reported.

Doherty was close friends with Ald. Edward Burke (14th), who was charged in 2019 with trying to extort a Burger King franchise owner into hiring his private law firm. It’s unclear whether that case is related to the one involving Nice, but both appear to involve the same grand jury, as well as at least one prosecutor.

Also unclear is whether the subpoena on Merrionette Park relates to a flurry of federal interest in other southwest suburbs, where federal agents have been looking into, among other things, whether payoffs helped lead to the installation of red-light cameras. Merrionette Park, however, has no red-light cameras.

Contributing: Jon Seidel


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