SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan has declined an invitation to testify before a legislative committee investigating his involvement in a bribery scheme with Commonwealth Edison.
In a letter sent to committee members late Friday afternoon, Madigan stated House Minority Leader Jim Durkin’s petition for the investigation to take place is “nothing more than a political stunt.”
Gov. JB Pritzker and lawmakers in both chambers of the General Assembly continue to ask Madigan to answer questions surrounding the ComEd investigation. However, the Speaker said the committee doesn’t have the resources or ability to recreate the federal investigation.
“For the record, I am not exercising my Fifth Amendment rights by not appearing before the Committee. As I have said before, I have done nothing wrong,” Madigan stated. “But the federal investigation is more important than Mr. Durkin’s political theatrics, and I cannot in good conscience take any action that may in any way interfere with a federal investigation or potential prosecutions solely to appease the minority party’s desire to use government resources for a political purpose.”
Disputing the deferred prosecution agreement
Madigan also argued the utility company’s deferred prosecution agreement never attributed misconduct to him. Although, Madigan mentioned the legal document found ComEd officials hired individuals he purportedly recommended in order to influence him. The Speaker disputes that idea.
“That attempt was never made known to me – if it had been, it would have been profoundly unwelcome,” Madigan stated. The Chicago Democrat says anyone believing they could influence his legislative actions by hiring close friends is “incredibly mistaken.”
“If they even harbored the thought that they could bribe or influence me, they would have failed miserably. I take offense at any notion otherwise,” Madigan added. “To the extent that anyone may have suggested to others that I could be influenced, then they, too, were dead wrong and, had I known it, I would have made every effort to put a stop to it.”
Former ComEd lobbyists Mike McClain, Mike Zalewski, and Jay Doherty declined the invitation to testify. Anne Pramaggiore, a former ComEd CEO, also opted out of voluntarily appearing before the committee.
The Special Investigating Committee can issue subpoenas. However, that action would require a Democrat to join Republican members on a vote. Six Representatives sit on the committee with an even split down the respective partisan line.
What comes next?
Meanwhile, ComEd executives have agreed to testify before the committee next week. Durkin and legal counsel Ron Safer plan to start the questioning of those officials on Tuesday.
“The committee will proceed as scheduled with our Tuesday, Sept. 29 hearing at 2 p.m.,” stated Committee Chair Emanuel “Chris” Welch. “I ask all members to come prepared to conduct themselves in a manner reflective of the serious business before us.”
However, the House Minority Leader still wants to see Madigan testify.
“Speaker Madigan continues to take the path that his own House Rules apply to all except him,” Durkin stated Friday night. “The House Democrats and Governor Pritzker must step up and demand answers about Madigan’s involvement in ComEd’s admission of guilt in a bribery scheme lasting nine years.”