ComEd was pressured to hire a political law firm amid a crucial Springfield bill fight, former official says


ComEd’s financial future may have been hotly contested before the pending bill was introduced in the Illinois legislature in late 2011, but the then-top utility lawyer suddenly had another priority. He testified on Tuesday that he found himself under pressure to deal with the matter.

The law firm of political operative Victor Reyes signed an unusual three-year deal with ComEd, guaranteeing Reyes’ firm 850 hours of legal work per year.

Former ComEd General Counsel Thomas O’Neill explained to jurors the pressure he felt in 2011 and 2016. He said it came mainly from lobbyist Michael McClain.

O’Neill said he also felt pressure from Anne Pramaggiore, who became ComEd’s CEO with a legislative strategy that “what matters to the speaker is important to ComEd.”


Former ComEd CEO Anne Pramaggiore steps into Dirksen Federal Court.

O’Neill explained all of this during the trial of McClane, Pramaggiore, and two other former political powers who were put on trial for alleged conspiracy to bribe Madigan.

He said he first signed Reyes Kurson on October 25, 2011, though he was unaware at the time that Reyes was also involved in financing Madigan. The deal was signed one day before the Illinois legislature passed a bill that would turn ComEd’s fortunes around.

“I felt constant pressure to get it done,” O’Neill said. “We said we would. And we moved forward. We went ahead.”

Also on trial alongside McClain and Pramaggiore are former ComEd lobbyist John Hooker and former City Club president Jay Doherty. O’Neill was the first witness in the trial to get to the heart of the allegations against four people accused of arranging jobs, contracts and money for Madigan’s allies while important legislation was passed through Springfield. became.

Among the schemes alleged in the indictment was an attempt to get ComEd to hire Reyes Kurson to renew an unusual contract.

MacLaine’s attorney Patrick Cotter last week promised jurors that he “won’t hear a word” linking a job recommendation from Madigan to part of the law. , prosecutors appear to be working methodically to link the hiring pressures described by O’Neill to major bills.

The first few days of the trial featured testimony depicting McClane as Madigan’s emissary, known to deliver the demands of speakers. Now a jury is hearing how McClain bypassed his O’Neill to avoid limiting the time ComEd promised Reyes Kurson.

And that happened while ComEd was negotiating the bill in Springfield.

“Mike went over my head to Anne [Pramaggiore] directly,” O’Neill told the jury.

O’Neill said the pressure campaign began because he was heavily involved in the fight to get the president through. Energy Infrastructure and Modernization Act, or EIMA, The bill passed both houses, but was rejected by the government at the time. Pat Quinn. Congress later overturned his veto.

Another ComEd executive said EIMA and the Future Energy Jobs Act (FEJA) of 2016 have helped ComEd achieve record earnings in 2022 from near bankruptcy.

O’Neill said he started hearing about recruiting Reyes Carson from McClane and Hooker in 2011. O’Neill said he met Reyes in June of that year. However, McClane began to pester him about it, and Hooker told him, “You need to go ahead with the deal”, “It’s important to get this done.”

O’Neill said he was fighting to get through EIMA and “would have liked to have had more time.” He said he had acquiesced and hired the company not only because of the pressure, but also because it was minority-owned and focused on ComEd’s areas of interest.

Reyes Kurson didn’t work 850 hours in 2012, but he said he exceeded his contract guarantees as time went on. O’Neill said he confirmed through staff that “the work they are doing is of value to the company.”

The contract was due to be renewed again in 2016 — the year ComEd returned to Congress to pass FEJA. But O’Neill was told by a ComEd attorney, “850 hours is way too much. We don’t have that much work for them.”

So O’Neill began lobbying for Reyes Carson’s working hours to be reduced. As a result, his McClain, a lobbyist for ComEd, began emailing his Pramaggiore, his CEO at ComEd, directly. In it, McClane used Madigan’s typical code, “our Friend”.

“Well, I hate to bring this to your attention, but I have to,” McClane wrote. I think that there.”

McClane added:if you don’t care [sic] And when he solves this problem that takes him 850 hours a year in his law firm, he’ll go to our friend. Our friend will call me and then I will call you. Is this the training we must go through? “

Pramaggiore ended up forwarding McClain’s email to O’Neill without comment. O’Neill said he forwarded another email to Pramaggiore without comment discussing ComMed’s consulting deal with Roosevelt Group, another of Reyes’ lobbying firms.

“Because I felt he was double-dipping,” O’Neill said.

O’Neill sent the email one minute after Pramaggiore sent the email.

Defense attorneys are scheduled to cross-examine O’Neal on Wednesday.

Also on Tuesday, Rep. Robert “Bob” Rita returned to the stands after telling jurors that Madigan ruled the Illinois House of Representatives “through fear and intimidation.” Attorneys had the opportunity to put more pressure on the Blue Island Democrats for their assessment.

“When you say fear, aren’t you talking about physical harm?” asked Cotter. “Are you saying that Mike Madigan was running around brandishing a gun at you?”

Rita said no.

“When you say fear, are you saying people are afraid of the political consequences of the vote?” Kotter asked.

Rita said, “Yeah, and state duties.”


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Written by Natalia Chi

Chicago Popular; Chicago breaking news, weather and live video. Covering local politics, health, traffic and sports for Chicago, the suburbs and northwest Indiana.

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