Verdicts throw Springfield a curve ball

Verdicts throw Springfield a curve ball

Presented by the Paul Simon-Jim Edgar Statesmanship Award

Good Wednesday morning, Illinois. The drive downstate was blissfully uneventful.


SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — The guilty verdicts handed down Tuesday in Chicago reverberated here in the capital city, where state lawmakers had gathered for a friendly softball game at Lincoln Park.

All four defendants in the “ComEd Four’’ trial were found guilty in federal court on all counts in a case that put lobbying in the spotlight. The news stopped action on the field in Springfield where some members of the bipartisan legislative teams were warming up — while lobbyists watched from the sidelines.

State Senate President Don Harmon stepped away from the baseline when spokesman John Patterson waved him over to relay the verdicts.

Illinois Senate President Don Harmon talked to Senate spokesman John Patterson Tuesday, May 2, 2023, at Springfield's Lincoln Park after the ComEd verdicts came in.

Illinois Senate President Don Harmon talked to Senate spokesman John Patterson Tuesday, May 2, 2023, at Springfield’s Lincoln Park after the ComEd verdicts came in. | POLITICO's Shia Kapos

Moments later, Harmon’s statement popped up in reporters’ inboxes: “The behavior brought to light and put on display at this trial was shockingly gluttonous and unhealthy to democracy,” the Democratic senator said, adding, “We’ve taken concrete steps to discourage bad behavior. But most importantly, I believe we have people committed to behaving better.”

Harmon’s statement indirectly notes the state already enacted laws to stop lobbyists from crossing ethical lines. And Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who’s made good government a crusade, tweeted, “I believe this development makes clear: if you practice misdealing, you will be held accountable.”

There are so far no new bills before lawmakers to tighten ethics rules, and it’s not likely any legislation will be presented before the Illinois General Assembly wraps up in a few weeks.

Whether or not there’s legislative action, the impact of the trial is already being felt, lobbyists say. Lawmakers are more careful about when and how they talk to lobbyists — even avoiding casual chit-chat in the Capitol hallways.

“I don’t think there’s a culture of corruption, but I think people are being a lot more careful,” lobbyist Dan Shomon told Playbook.

Lobbyist Mark Peysakhovich worries it will be harder to build relationships with lawmakers. “The idea that you can buy somebody dinner a couple times and say jump, and they jump, that’s ridiculous. That doesn’t happen in Springfield. You can buy people lunch 10 times and they may not even call you back. There is a huge difference between politics and corruption,” he told Playbook.

Some lobbyists didn’t want to speak openly about their opinions, though they acknowledged the case is making them think twice about how they do business.

They noted the irony that even though they had concerns about doing business with lawmakers, it’s lobbyists who helped put on the softball game, from getting the food truck that served barbecue and fries to footing the bill for drinks.

David Olsen, a former state representative who lobbies for the Alzheimer’s Association, suggests it’s only something to worry about if you aren’t operating by the rules. Lobbyists who work “in an ethical way” by “talking and building relationships” won’t be impacted at all, he said.

Some take-aways:

Juror says panel wanted ‘politics to run in a correct manner,’ by Tribune’s Jason Meisner, Ray Long and Megan Crepeau

Verdict is a warning shot at Michael Madigan, by Sun-Times’ Jon Seidel, Tina Sfondeles and David Struett

Lawmakers react to ‘ComEd Four’ convictions, by Tribune’s Jeremy Gorner

Jurors say they didn’t believe the jobs and money that went to Madigan allies were just legal lobbying, by Sun-Times’ David Struett, Tina Sfondeles and Matthew Hendrickson

— OPINION: Trial underscores need for strengthened ethics reforms, writes the Better Government Association


House Speaker Emanuel

House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch hit a ball to left field in his first at bat Tuesday, May 2, 2023, at Springfield’s Lincoln Park. | POLITICO's Shia Kapos

The House won the annual House v. Senate softball game 12-11 on a walk-off RBI single from Democratic state Rep. Anthony DeLuca. “Great effort from the Senate though. They have half the members and are a little older on average than the House, but they still made it a game,” tweeted political reporter Brenden Moore.

A message from the Paul Simon-Jim Edgar Statesmanship Award:

Nominations are open for the Simon-Edgar Statesmanship Award, inspired by the service of former Senator Paul Simon, a Democrat, and former Governor Jim Edgar, a Republican. The award is presented each year to an Illinois elected official at the state or local level who has demonstrated a pattern of public service characterized by vision, courage, compassion, effectiveness, civility, and bipartisanship. Help us celebrate Illinois statesmanship. Submit your nomination by June 1.


Inauguration plans are set for Mayor-elect Brandon Johnson and the new City Council.

The ceremony will be held May 15 at 10:30 a.m. at University of Illinois at Chicago’s Credit Union 1 Arena, previously known as the UIC Pavilion and site of a pre-election rally that featured Sen. Bernie Sanders.

The new mayor will hold court during the traditional City Hall open house for residents at 2 p.m. This is when Chicagoans can visit the mayor in the Fifth Floor mayoral office.

Weekend events leading up to the inauguration are in the works, according to Alex Sims-Jones, who is heading up the “Inaugural Event Series.”

Big names on the inauguration committee: Civil rights activist the Rev. Jesse Jackson, state Sen. Robert Martwick, Cook County Commissioner Josina Morita, Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez (25th), Chicago Library Board President Linda Johnson Rice, Ariel Investments CEO John Rogers Jr., Loop Capital CEO Jim Reynolds Jr., film producer Gigi Pritzker (a cousin to the governor), as well as Beverly Kim, Teresa Cordova, Ryan Gordon, Tariq Saddiqui and Andrea Saenz.

If you are Rev. Jesse Jackson, Playbook would like to know how many mayors you’ve helped settle into office. Email [email protected].


No official public events.


On West Madison Street at 2 p.m. for a groundbreaking ceremony for the Aspire Center in Austin — a $41 million INVEST South/West project that will create a new community gathering space and provide workforce development training.

Where's Toni

In Springfield to meet with members of the Illinois General Assembly.

Thank you for reading Playbook! Drop me a line sometime: [email protected]

DON’T MISS THE POLITICO ENERGY SUMMIT: A new world energy order is emerging and America’s place in it is at a critical juncture. Join POLITICO on Thursday, May 18 for our first-ever energy summit to explore how the U.S. is positioning itself in a complicated energy future. We’ll explore progress on infrastructure and climate funding dedicated to building a renewable energy economy, Biden’s environmental justice proposals, and so much more. REGISTER HERE.


Pritzker’s IDOT secretary violated rules by letting high-ranking officials delegate duties to keep job options open, IG finds, by Tribune’s Dan Petrella.

Measure would require schools to notify parents of bullying incidents within 24 hours, by Capitol News’ Nika Schoonover

Illinois’ House speaker, an ally to organized labor, faces a push from his own employees to unionize, by WBEZ’s Alex Degman


Chicago’s violence prevention committee hasn’t met in nearly 2 years, by the Trace’s Rita Oceguera

Community meeting set for plan to convert high school into shelter for families seeking asylum, by Sun-Times’ Elvia Malagón

17 people hospitalized in school bus-SUV crash in Little Village, by Sun-Times’ Mohammad Samra and Michael Loria

Rick Tramonto, legendary chef of Tru, makes Chicago return with Parker Hospitality, by Tribune’s Nick Kindelsperger


County Assessor Fritz Kaegi moves to jack up Bears’ Arlington Heights tax tab: “The move is being appealed to the Cook County Board of Review, a three-person panel that can overrule Kaegi’s decisions. But if the assessment is upheld, it would cost the team roughly an additional $15 million a year in property taxes — a very steep price the NFL franchise would have to pay while it decides whether to develop the former Arlington International Racecourse property,” by Crain’s Greg Hinz.

Three Des Plaines aldermen move to disregard term-limit vote but come up short, by Daily Herald’s Russell Lissau

Schaumburg considers 4-year plan to improve network, safety, education for bicyclists, by Daily Herald’s Eric Peterson

A message from the Paul Simon-Jim Edgar Statesmanship Award:

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Reader Digest

We asked for your most memorable Springfield to Chicago travel stories.

Lisa Brasch: “The time I pulled over in a horrible storm and got stuck in mud so deep I couldn’t open the car door. I was rescued by good Samaritan truckers who towed me out with chains.”

Matthew Beaudet: “The time I sped back from my Senate confirmation hearing to make sure I made it home before my daughter went to bed on her eighth birthday.”

Robert Christie: “The time my wife, kids and sister-in-law were pulled off the road by state police in Bloomington because I-55 was closed due to dozens of trucks blocking the highway because their diesel fuel had gelled. We got the last room at the Bloomington Holiday Inn, and when we drive home we had to use a window scraper to get the frost off the INSIDE of the windshield because it was too cold for the defroster to work.”

John Mark Hansen: “That time we stopped in Atlanta, just north of Springfield, to see the big Paul Bunyan cradling a hotdog on old US 66 and the antique wooden grain elevator with the chain hoist to dump the farmers’ grain wagons.”

Ed Mazur: “The time I was heading to Springfield for an 8 a.m. training seminar and got stuck in Bloomington traffic and missed the seminar, which I was leading.”

Milt McDougald: “The time I got off work early during the ice storm of 1978. As I drove onto I-55 heading north from Clear Lake, I came up over a rise and saw a valley of potential disaster covered with ice.”

Jim Montgomery: “The time when I was a young, newly married campaign staffer and my wife and I drove my boss, Penny Severns, candidate for lieutenant governor at the time, from a rally in Carlinville to the airport in Springfield. We hit the high spots on Route 4.”

Joan Pederson: “The time I helped keep Dad awake when we drove down I-55 to rescue neighbors after their VW bus conked out near Springfield. It was a hot summer night and the sky was alive with lightning.”

Barry Tusin: “The time I was driving just north of Odell and looked to the west under threatening skies to see a tornado — fully formed and kicking up dust and debris — heading directly toward I-55!”

Claude Walker: “The time I drove Sen. Carol Moseley Braun to Springfield in a monsoon while listening to Coltrane.”

What name would you give the investigation of the four defendants in the ComEd case? (Like Operation Greylord or Operation Safe Road.) Email [email protected]

GET READY FOR GLOBAL TECH DAY: Join POLITICO Live as we launch our first Global Tech Day alongside London Tech Week on Thursday, June 15. Register now for continuing updates and to be a part of this momentous and program-packed day! From the blockchain, to AI, and autonomous vehicles, technology is changing how power is exercised around the world, so who will write the rules? REGSITER HERE.


Public transit banked on office workers and now they’re paying for it: Despite being rescued with $55 billion in federal Covid relief money in 2020 and 2021 after watching their farebox revenue evaporate, 10 of the nation’s largest transit systems will soon need to find billions of dollars a year to stay afloat. “It’s a new day for transit in terms of ridership, the people delivering the services — from drivers to mechanics,” former Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in an interview. “The whole thing has to be rethought and reevaluated.” POLITICO’s Danielle Muoio Dunn and Ry Rivard report.


GOP’s best pals in debt talks: Manchin and Sinema, by POLITICO’s Burgess Everett

GOP senators call on Supreme Court to ‘update’ ethics oversight, by POLITICO’s Josh Gerstein and Katherine Tully-McManus

Who paid for Ron DeSantis’ trip overseas? No one will say, by POLITICO’s Gary Fineout


— Maurice Classen, the former chief of staff to Chicago’s mayor and director of strategy for Chicago Police Department, will join Zencity, the New York-based tech company, as chief operations officer.

— Caroline Hoffman has been promoted to be associate director of media relations at marketing agency Walker Sands.

A message from the Paul Simon-Jim Edgar Statesmanship Award:

The annual Paul Simon-Jim Edgar Statesmanship Award is presented to a former or current elected state or local government official in Illinois who has demonstrated a pattern of public service characterized by vision, courage, compassion, effectiveness, civility, and bipartisanship.

Former Governor Jim Edgar and John Shaw, director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, invite you to nominate an Illinois state or local elected official who has displayed this kind of exceptional leadership.

We created the Simon-Edgar Statesmanship Award to shine a spotlight on remarkable public service that is taking place in our state and local communities. Please join us as we celebrate the Prairie State’s best traditions. Nominate an Illinois statesperson by June 1.


TUESDAY’s ANSWER: Congrats to Charlie Corrigan for correctly answering that Quinn Chapel of African Methodist Episcopal Church has seen everyone from Susan B. Anthony to Barack Obama speak at its pulpit.

TODAY’s QUESTION: What’s the real-life Chicago street that inspired author Sandra Cisneros to write “House on Mango Street”? Email [email protected]


Jordan Abudayyeh, the governor’s deputy chief of staff for communications, 47th Ward Committeeman Paul Rosenfeld, former House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie, former state Rep. Yoni Pizer, Sen. Tammy Duckworth outreach director Jessica Sewell, Mercy Home’s CEO Rev. Scott Donahue, Illinois Policy Institute board member Ed Bachrach, Acacia Consulting Group’s Tom Elliott, marketing exec Whitney Reis Lasky, musician and activist Ted Sirota, political commentator Charles Thomas, PR pro Orly Telisman, health policy legislative assistant Vic Goetz and recent White House housing and urban policy aide Erika Poethig.


( Information from was used in this report. Also if you have any problem of this article or if you need to remove this articles, please email here and we will delete this immediately. [email protected] )

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