United StatesIllinois

If Madigan allegations true, Pritzker says speaker ‘has to resign’

Gov. J.B. Pritzker speaks at a news conference on Monday.

(The Center Square) – Should the allegations about House Speaker Michael Madigan referenced in an agreement between federal investigators and ComEd be confirmed, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker says Madigan should resign.

The U.S. District Attorney announced Friday that utility company ComEd has agreed to pay a $200 million criminal fine and admit to bribing state and local officials. In exchange, they agree to cooperate with investigators on further work.

The allegations released Friday don’t specifically mention Madigan. Instead, it cites “Public Official A” who is Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives, a position Madigan has held for decades.

At a news conference in Waukegan, Pritzker was “furious” about Madigan’s apparent involvement.

“The speaker has a lot that he has to answer for,” Pritzker said. “These allegations strike at the core of what public service means … If these allegations of wrongdoing by the speaker are true, there is no question that he will have betrayed the public trust and he must resign.”

In a statement made on behalf of Madigan, the speaker confirmed that he was served federal subpoenas seeking documents related to his job recommendations but he denied any wrongdoing.

U.S. Attorney John Lausch said in a news conference Friday that their investigation is widespread, and ComEd’s cooperation has been “fruitful” in their ongoing efforts to root out corruption.

“ComEd has acknowledged that in an effort to influence and reward Public Official A’s efforts to assist ComEd with respect to legislation concerning ComEd and it’s business, ComEd arranged for various associates of Public Official A, including political allies and individuals who performed political work for Public Official A, like precinct captains in his ward, to obtain jobs, vendor subcontracts, and monetary payments associated with those jobs…even in instances where these political allies and workers did little-to-no work that they were reportedly hired to perform for ComEd,” Lausch said.

He said ComEd had admitted that its efforts to influence the speaker began in 2011 and continued through 2019. In that time, ComEd benefited from legislation that Lausch said had a considerable impact on the company’s profitability and affected rates ComEd was able to charge customers.

In 2017, lawmakers passed the Future Energy Jobs Act, which adigan supported.

At the time, nuclear energy provider Exelon, the parent of Commonwealth Edison, said the fate of two of its power plants hung in the balance. If lawmakers didn’t approve the bill, the plants would close.

Supporters said Senate Bill 2814 was a hallmark accomplishment for green energy initiatives, while critics called it a ratepayer-funded bailout of the two nuclear power plants owned by Exelon.

In October, then Exelon CEO Anne Pramaggiore abruptly resigned amid questions about the company’s lobbying activity and connection to former state Sen. Martin Sandoval, who pleaded guilty to accepting bribes to protect a red-light camera company.

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