Illinois House investigative committee to review Madigan’s role in ComEd scandal
The special investigative committee will determine whether Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan should be disciplined after being implicated in the ComEd bribery scandal.
House Majority Leader Greg Harris, D-Chicago, announced Wednesday the formation of a special investigative committee to review Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan’s role in the Commonwealth Edison scandal, in light of the deferred prosecution agreement announced in July.
Madigan responded by calling the committee a political stunt, denied wrongdoing, but promised to stay out of the decisions regarding the investigation.
Harris’ announcement follows House Minority Leader Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs, and Reps. Ryan Spain, R-Peoria, and Andrew Chesney, R-Freeport, invoking House Rule 91 by signing a petition requesting the special investigative committee to review the matter.
House Rule 91 states, “Disciplinary proceedings may be commenced by filing with the Speaker and the Minority Leader a petition, signed by 3 or more members of the House, for a special investigating committee.” Moreover, such a committee has the power to “subject the member named in the petition to disciplinary action by the House” if the charges against them are found to be true. “The committee may recommend a reprimand, a censure, expulsion from the House, or that no penalty be invoked,” according to the House rules.
Madigan, D-Chicago, was notified of the petition and recused himself from any consideration of the matter, handing decision-making responsibility over to Harris.
“Given the facts admitted by ComEd for its nine-year-long scheme to bribe Speaker Madigan, the Illinois House of Representatives must do its job and conduct a thorough investigation,” Durkin said in a news release.
State Rep. Emanuel Chris Welch, D-Hillside, was appointed by Harris to chair the committee. Reps. Elizabeth Hernandez, D-Cicero, Natalie Manley, D-Joliet, Tom Demmer, R-Dixon, Deanne Mazzochi, R-Elmhurst, and Grant Wehrli, R-Naperville, will also serve on the committee.
“This is a power that should be judiciously exercised, and one that has rarely been used. In the past two decades, it has been invoked on two occasions, following the arrest and indictment of former Representatives Derrick Smith and Luis Arroyo,” Harris added in a press release.
Madigan called the petition for a special investigative committee a “political stunt,” and denied he did anything wrong or for the wrong reasons.
“As I have stated previously, I have never made a legislative decision with improper motives. The notion that the passage of two consequential pieces of energy legislation was tied to the hiring or retention of a few individuals is seriously mistaken,” Madigan said.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker responded to the special investigative committee by calling it an “extraordinarily important endeavor.” He said he hopes they will be “seeking real answers,” according to CBS Chicago.
“As I have said all along, there are questions that need to be answered by the speaker, and perhaps the creation of this legislative committee will actually get some of those answers. So I favor more information, more transparency, and I encourage the speaker and anyone that they may call to give the answers to the questions that this committee will ask,” Pritzker said.
In July, federal prosecutors announced ComEd had been charged with a years-long bribery scheme that sought to “influence and reward” Madigan between 2011 and 2019 by arranging for $1.3 million in jobs, contracts and payments to his political cronies. Subpoenas were served seeking information as to Madigan’s involvement with similar schemes involving AT&T and others.
Madigan was not charged as part of the case, but was identified in court documents as “Public Official A.” As part of the deal, ComEd agreed to pay a $200 million fine, admit to seeking Madigan’s help in passing legislation worth more than $150 million to the company and continue to cooperate with the ongoing federal investigation into public corruption.
Lawmakers from both parties and from across the state – including 10 state House and Senate Democrats – have called for Madigan to resign his positions as House Speaker and chairman of the Democratic Party of Illinois. Others, such as Pritzker, have made a milder call for him to resign if the allegations are true.
Madigan is the fifth key backer of Pritzker’s progressive tax to face federal corruption scrutiny, some for tax evasion. Pritzker himself is under federal investigation for a $331,000 property tax dodge on his Gold Coast mansion.
After betraying the public’s trust and avoiding their own taxes, it takes a special arrogance to ask voters Nov. 3 to trust state lawmakers with greater authority to say who should be taxed how much, including retirees.