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Pritzker not planning to call special session on ethics reform despite allegations against Madigan

Gov. J.B. Pritzker speaks at a news conference Monday in Peoria.

(The Center Square) – Despite utility giant ComEd admitting to bribery in a federal investigation that also implicated Speaker of the House Michael Madigan, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Monday he has no plans to call a special session of the legislature to take up ethics reform.

During an appearance in Peoria on Monday, Pritzker would not commit to calling a special session to take up the issue even though earlier in the day he said lobbying reform was needed.

“I am hoping that in November that we will be able to take up again the work by the ethics commission that was put together in the General Assembly, a bi-partisan commission that was doing quite good work before they were cut short by COVID-19,” the governor said.

The legislature is scheduled to be in session after the November election but many Republicans say ethics reforms are needed now.

On Friday, federal prosecutors sent grand jury subpoenas to Madigan’s offices. In a separate court filing, utility giant ComEd admitted engaging in bribery over a number of years. The centerpiece of ComEd’s lobbying practices is the manner in which it awarded contracts to Madigan’s supporters dating back to 2011, according to court documents.

Republican state Rep. David McSweeney wants to return to Springfield as soon as possible.

“The governor should immediately call a special session for real ethics reform right now this week,” McSweeney said. “We should also have a vote on who should be the speaker.”

Many Republican lawmakers and even some Democratic senators have called for Madigan to resign. Pritzker said last week that Madigan should resign if the allegations are true.

Republican Rep. Jim Oberweis said ethics reform is just the beginning.

“Ethics reform is not enough,” he said. “We have a terrible culture of corruption here in Illinois. We need some real substantive changes such as term limits and redistricting reform.”

“A dark cloud now hangs over the state of Illinois,” Illinois Republican Chairman Tim Schneider said.

Pritzker said Madigan has a lot of questions to answer regarding ComEd and other matters.

Madigan, who serves as chairman of the Democratic Party of Illinois in addition to holding the gavel in the House, has control over how party funding is distributed and how bills move through the lower chamber of the state’s legislature. He has not been charged with a crime.

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