The trials of four individuals that were allegedly involved in the ComEd bribery scheme began this week. It is interesting that the prosecutors have put former Democrat House members on the stand. So far, Scott Drury, Lou Lang, and Carol Sente have testified as to Madigan’s power over legislation. None of their testimony is earth-shattering or new news. Everyone knew that no bill got passed unless Madigan wanted it to pass. The media and lobbyists knew this. Every member of the House, and the Senate, knew this. Governors Quinn and Rauner understood this.
I guess the prosecutors need to establish the extent of Madigan’s power for the jury to make their case which is why they are putting these people on the stand, but for the rest of us who served during Madigan’s worst years – those under Rauner – we saw raw power in action and we watched as the Democrats with few exceptions let it happen. So, it is ho-hum to hear this testimony when it was common knowledge. It is like having a physicist testify about the existence of gravity.
Let’s see if they call Ken Dunkin to the stand. Ken famously stayed away for a critical vote during a special session, on September 2, 2015, on a motion to override Rauner’s veto of a pro-union bill (SB1229 from the 99th GA). Madigan needed every vote to get that override. He even forced Esther Golar who was literally on her death bed to come down for the vote. Less than three weeks after the vote, Esther died.
Ken Dunkin who defied Madigan in his attempt to override the veto by not showing up got the royal treatment in the 2016 election cycle. Defy the King and he’ll take you out. Madigan recruited Julianna Stratton to run against Dunkin in the Democrat primary for state rep in the 2016 election. About three million dollars were spent on each side to win that state house seat. Madigan sealed the win for Stratton by calling in a favor from Barack Obama – sitting President of the United States at that time – to cut a commercial endorsing Stratton. Dunkin lost. Stratton went on two years later to run with Pritzker after having checked a few more boxes. If you are just hearing these stories for the first time, it is because the media doesn’t cover any of the really important stuff and connect the dots until long after the damage has been done and it is safe to go after the power brokers.