CHICAGO — ComEd executives apologized for the company’s admitted “wrongful conduct” in an alleged bribery scheme involving Illinois House Speaker Rep. Michael Madigan Wednesday.
The utility giant’s CEO Joe Dominguez faced questions from the Illinois Commerce Commission, speaking publicly about the company’s role for the first time.
“On behalf of ComEd, I want to tell you that I am sorry for that conduct. It violated a trust with you,” Dominguez said. “There are no excuses for our conduct, and I will offer none today.”
Earlier this month, ComEd agreed to pay a $200 million fine after federal prosecutors charged the utility with bribery, saying the company allegedly engaged in corrupt lobbying practices by sending lucrative contracts to Madigan’s supporters.
In return, prosecutors said the company secured favorable legislation from Illinois lawmakers.
While the hearing began with an apology, it became an argument over what exactly the company was admitting.
“A deferred prosecution agreement is not a criminal conviction of ComEd. It is – as the name implies – an agreement that defers, and ultimately avoids, any prosecution provided that ComEd meets the conditions of the agreement,” Dominguez said.
The hearing comes one day after ComEd made its first appearance in court facing a new class-action consumer fraud lawsuit seeking $150 million in reimbursements for consumers.
As part of the agreement with prosecutors, ComEd agreed to pay a $200 million fine. But Dominguez argues the deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) doesn’t allege the company gained beneficial legislation as a result of the alleged wheeling-and-dealing with Madigan.
“Nowhere in the DPA is there any allegation or inference that the smart grid law was bad policy or that ComEd’s investments did not produce value to customers,” Dominguez said.
The company hired a new compliance officer to ensure corrupt practices are not repeated, which will operate as a type of internal watchdog.
“Really my sole responsibility, as directed by Exelon’s CEO and our board – is to fix it,” said Dave Glocker, the new ComEd VP of Compliance.
if the company were to meet the government requirements, it wouldn’t have to reimburse consumers for any profits made in the scheme. But the sprawling corruption investigation could spur Springfield to pass new ethics reforms.
“We have to address this. There is just no doubt. I think there’s cynicism that abounds among voters, and rightfully so, when you hear about what Commonwealth Edison did and what anybody who was engaged in may have done,” Illinois Governor JB Prizker said.
House Speaker Michael Madigan has not been charged with any crime, and a spokesperson has said he did nothing wrong.