SPRINGFIELD –Illinois House Republicans on a special committee investigating House Speaker Michael Madigan’s role in a bribery scheme involving Commonwealth Edison sought to tie the longtime leader directly to the $1.3 million in payments over nearly a decade made by the utility giant to his associates.
Tuesday’s hearing kicked off with a clash between committee Chairman Rep. Emanuel "Chris" Welch, D-Hillside, and House Minority Leader Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs, who initiated the disciplinary process under House rules.
Welch argued that Durkin could not make an opening statement since he is not a committee member and because he signed a petition accusing Madigan of wrongdoing.
Welch ultimately allowed Durkin to give an opening statement, but not to question the witness.
In his opening statement, Durkin said the evidence will establish that Madigan engaged in “conduct unbecoming to a legislator or which constitutes a breach of public trust.”
“The evidence will be direct, strong and convincing,” Durkin said. “And we'll meet the burden of proof for this committee – that is whether reasonable grounds exist to authorize charges.
“Speaker Michael Madigan abused his office. Speaker Michael Madigan abused the public's trust.”
He said Republican members of the committee will attempt to subpoena Michael McClain, a close associate of Madigan who is implicated in the bribery scheme.
One of those Republican members, Rep. Deanne Mazzochi, of Elmhurst, questioned ComEd Executive Vice President of Compliance and Audit David Glockner to establish Madigan’s firsthand knowledge of a scheme from 2011 and 2019 seeking to “influence and reward” the House Speaker for legislation that would provide monetary benefits of more than $150 million to the utility.
In July, as part of a deferred prosecution agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Chicago, ComEd admitted it arranged for associates of Madigan “to obtain jobs, vendor subcontracts, and monetary payments associated with those jobs and subcontracts from ComEd, even in instances where certain political allies and workers performed little or no work that they were purportedly hired to perform for ComEd.”
Madigan has not been charged with any crime and denies wrongdoing.
Mazzochi asked Glockner about a section in the DPA that stated that “Consultant 1,” identified as former City Club of Chicago President Jay Doherty, “had ‘every reason to believe’ that Individual A had spoken to Public Official A about the retention of Public Official A’s associates,” the agreement states.
“Is it reasonable to infer that Mr. Madigan had knowledge of the scheme from that, from ComEd’s perspective?” Mazzochi asked.
Glockner said he wasn’t in a position to comment on that inquiry.
“ComEd has acknowledged repeatedly through the agreement that it believed or intended to influence the speaker through its conduct. Whether it in fact … influenced the speaker, whether the speaker was aware of its intent to influence – those are questions that I’m not in a position to comment on,” Glockner said.
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