Telephone conversation between Michael McClain, Michael Madigan, Justin Cox, Heather Wier-Vaught, Craig Willert, Will Cousineau, Jessica Basham | ComEd Exhibit 112-T

Former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan discusses leadership assignments in a secretly-recorded meeting with members of his staff in December 2018.

SHARE Telephone conversation between Michael McClain, Michael Madigan, Justin Cox, Heather Wier-Vaught, Craig Willert, Will Cousineau, Jessica Basham | ComEd Exhibit 112-T

CASE TITLE: United States v. McClain, et al.


ACTIVITY: Telephone Conversation between Michael McClain, Michael Madigan, Justin Cox, Heather Wier-Vaught, Craig Willert, Will Cousineau, Jessica Basham

DATE: December 9, 2018

TIME: 10:50 a.m.



BASHAM: Hi Speaker, good morning.

MADIGAN: Hi Jessica, sorry that I’m late. I just—

BASHAM: No, it’s not a problem at all.

MADIGAN: —another appointment in here. Um, so, who’s on the call Jessica?

BASHAM: Yeah so, in addition to you and me, there’s Justin Cox, Heather Wier-Vaught, Craig Willert, Mike McClain, and Will Cousineau.

MADIGAN: Okay. Good.



MADIGAN: Now, everybody should know that, um, as an example, I, I had a very difficult conversation with Sara Feigenholtz. Uh, where she was pressing the case that she should be appointed as the majority leader and a point I made to her and a point I’ve made for others is that, um, it’s one thing for the Black Caucus and the Hispanic Caucus to make recommendations that I just go along with, uh, for appointments to leadership positions, but in the case of the majority leader, I view that as my appointment. And I have no compunction about saying that to anybody that wants to listen to me. Um, in the House, different from the Senate, in the House the appointment of the majority leader should be the appointment of the Speaker, because the majority leader plays a key role in House operations. And, um, when I appointed Barbara Currie as the majority leader, I did not appoint her because she was a woman, I appointed her because I thought that she would do the best job as the majority leader and I was right. And, and I’m more than willing to tell anybody that wants to listen to that. So, you know, I understand we have a lot of people walking around trying to find things to complain about, but every once in a while the Speaker gets to do what he wants to do, every once in a while.

MCCLAIN: The, the (coughs) now you would (unintelligible) the, the, the woman on the, that are gonna serve their sixth term, which is um, uh, Gabel, Lily, um, and Mayfield.

MADIGAN: Yeah. So, so Mike I, I guess that, um, in terms of leadership appointments you’re just going right down the seniority list?


MADIGAN: Yeah, yeah. I, I, I may go deeper.


MADIGAN: I may wanna go deeper so, so let’s be, let’s be very open here. Um, Kathy Willis, where is she on the seniority list? I’m not picking her up. I found her—

BASHAM: Um, she is in the fourth term.

MADIGAN: Fourth term, I might appoint her to leadership.


MADIGAN: I, I guess the way I should say it, I, I won’t bind myself to the seniority on appointment to leadership.


MADIGAN: I’ve used that as a convenient excuse. So when I appointed Feigenholtz to leadership why, she had real good seniority. And once I decided to do it there’s nobody that could complain about it because of her seniority but, but, um, I’ll go deeper for certain people.



MADIGAN: We’re not generating a lot of conversation today, maybe people are reluctant to—, so, here’s my request, work with these, there’s, there’s four documents that I have: the leadership appointments, the seniority list, the appointments to the service committees, and my notes. And so, think it through in terms of how we can work with all of these things to make as many people happy as possible. So as an example, um, somebody doesn’t, uh, get a committee chair that they want, I’m in a position to, “Well, listen, I’ll appoint you to JCAR,” because, so the goal is to make as many people happy as possible.

MCCLAIN: So Speaker, and this is McClain again, so in, in my mind, one of the things you sh—, you should consider and, and that your team should consider is, uh, developing a couple—like Revenue’s a controlled committee, Executive’s a controlled committee. Well, uh, on some of these bills you’re gonna get this Spring of next year, uh, they’re gonna come after some of, uh, some of your groups that are very strong for you, and so I think you oughta consider developing a couple committees where the, I mean existing committees, where the chairs are real strong and they can withstand, um, attacks, I’m just gonna use this as an example by S-E-I-U they wanna do a bill that, let’s say, hurts hospitals, that the chair of human services is strong enough to put that in subcommittee and withstand the pressure from S-E-I-U to, to do that. And so to me, um, as you consider leadership I, I wou—, I would think that if you move Gabel out of chairman of Human Services then, uh, that allows you to appoint someone as chairperson who’s strong enough to withstand that kind of attack and thereby, he or she, um, they don’t go overboard, but they can protect some of people that are our allies, strong allies of the House Democratic Caucus and that um, um, um without your fingerprints. In other words, you don’t have to kill a bill or, or an amendment in Rules, the chairperson is strong enough to put it in a, in a quote, unquote, working subcommittee. And, and, uh, second thing is I’ve heard, um, concerns that Bob Rita is a go-to person on consumer, um, protection and that, uh, he constantly gets beat up and so the other thing I’d like you to consider is, um, maybe making that committee a, just a hair larger so that there’s another go-to person in the consumer affairs besides Rita, so they can kind of trade off every once in a while. That would, um, protect, um, entities from uh, I’ll say egregious bills or amendments without it always—


MCCLAIN: —falling on Rita’s sh—, sh—, uh, shoulders. So it, those are just two global things that I’d like you to think about.

MADIGAN: And Mike, I think, you are ought to think about, I’m pretty sure that in the case of consumer protection we probably had difficulty finding people that wanted to serve on the committee.

MCCLAIN: Mhmm, mhmm.

MADIGAN: That happens quite frequently.


MADIGAN: Someone would be told, “Okay you can be the committee chair, now you have to go and find people to serve on your committee.”


MADIGAN: Because we don’t have any requests.


(Simultaneous conversation.)

MADIGAN: So that’s, it


MADIGAN: -I don’t disagree with what you’re saying, but understand what you’re up against.

MCCLAIN: Right so I, I would say, um, because this is December, if you and your team were inclined to maybe add another Democrat to that committee, well then without your fingerprints I could call a couple people and say you oughta make sure—


MCCLAIN: —you, you get two or three people to ask for that committee.

MADIGAN: Yeah we, we could make that judgment right now, to expand the committee. We just have to find the people to go on.



MCCLAIN: Speaker, uh, this is McClain again, so ho—, how do you—


MCCLAIN: —wanna proceed? Do you want people like me just to shoot, I’m, I’m talking about leaders or, um, uh, chair people, do you want me to shoot those ideas to Jessica or ho—, how do you—


MCCLAIN: Ho—, how do you want (unintelligible)-

MADIGAN: Yep, yep.

MCCLAIN: Do-okay.



MADIGAN: Send every, send everything to Jessica. And if, look, our, our function for the next several weeks is to think on this stuff, exchange ideas as we’ve done today, and the goal is to make as many people happy as possible with (unintelligible).



Read the original transcript of the conversation

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