GOP lawmakers call for Madigan to step down following indictments in ComEd bribery scheme

Chicago News

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Republican lawmakers are renewing their call for Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan to resign. The calls come after another member of Madigan’s inner circle was indicted Wednesday in the ComEd bribery scandal.

Four Madigan associates are facing federal corruption charges after being accused of hatching a illegal bribery scheme with the giant utility company, ComEd. The scheme promised legislative support for rate hikes in exchange for do-nothing jobs, according to the indictment. 

GOP legislators say it’s time for powerful Democrat Madigan to step down.

“I’m doing the same thing I did over the summer. I’m calling for his resignation. Not as a party chairman, but as speaker of the house of representatives and from the general assembly,” said Jim Durkin, Illinois House Republican Leader.

Durkin and fellow Republicans have joined a growing list of voices, some of those voices belonging to Democratic lawmakers, all demanding justice. 

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker came down hard on Madigan at his regular afternoon COVID-19 press conference. The governor demanded answers from the Speaker of the Illinois House.    

If speaker Madigan wants to continue in positions of enormous public trust, with such a serious ethical cloud hanging over his head, then he has to at the very least, be willing to stand in front of the press and the people and answer every last question, to their satisfaction,” Pritzker said.

Madigan was not named in the 50-page federal indictment and is not charged with any criminal wrongdoing. But in new court filings, it’s clear investigators are scrutinizing Madigan’s actions surrounding bribery allegations.   

New emails described in the indictment point an incriminating finger at one of Madigan’s closest confidantes, 73-year-old lobbyist Mike McClain. 

Also named in the indictment is retired ComEd executive John Hooker, former City Club of Chicago Chief Jay Doherty and former ComEd CEO Anne Pramaggiore.  

All four, through their lawyers, disputing the allegations accusing the Feds of conducting an overzealous prosecution.

Michael Madigan released the following statement Thursday:

The indictment returned Wednesday does not allege any criminal misconduct on my part. I have
not been accused of or charged with any wrongdoing.
After a lengthy investigation, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has charged, but of course has not
proven, that certain ComEd employees, consultants, and lobbyists allegedly conspired with one
another in the hope of somehow influencing me in my official capacity. Let me be clear: if that
attempt ever happened, it was never made known to me. If it had been known to me, it would
have been profoundly unwelcome. Nothing in either this indictment or in the earlier filings by
the U.S. Attorney’s Office alleges otherwise. In addition, nothing in this indictment or in the
earlier filings alleges that I did anything in my official capacity related to ComEd’s legislative
agenda as a result of whatever internal decisions ComEd made or didn’t make. Any such
allegation would be false. If there was an attempt to influence me in my official capacity, it
failed, although knowing most of the people who were charged, I doubt there was any scheme as
characterized by the government.
To the extent that anyone at ComEd or Exelon believed they could influence my conduct as a
legislator by hiring someone I may have recommended, who worked for me, or who did political
work for me, they were fundamentally 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. To the extent anyone may have suggested to others that I could be influenced, then
they, too, were wrong. Had I known about it, I would have made every effort to put a stop to it.
The energy legislation cited by the U.S. Attorney’s Office had the broad support of Democratic
and Republican members, other legislative leaders, labor supporters, consumer advocates, and
environmentalists. The bills could not have passed without such broad support, and they were the
product of years of deliberation, negotiations, and consensus building. House Democrats won
significant concessions, much to the chagrin of ComEd and Exelon, likely costing the companies
millions of dollars in profits, all while acting in the best interests of our constituents and the
ratepayers. It cannot be seriously said that my staff or I carried the banner for ComEd or Exelon
on these bills. The 2016 FEJA bill, for example, would not have moved but for the intense
involvement of Representative Durkin and former Governor Rauner.
I believe a large part of my duty as an elected official is to help people, and I’ve made that a
priority since the day I took the oath of office. It has required drastic measures like taking on a
billionaire governor bent on destroying unions and eliminating social services programs that our
most vulnerable citizens rely on to survive day-to-day. It has also required attention to detail like
removing gang graffiti from buildings and garages, connecting residents with services that can
help improve their lives, helping students find internships, and recommending qualified people
who are seeking employment. Helping people find jobs is not a crime. As I have stated before, I
have never helped someone find a job with an expectation that the person would not be asked to
perform work by his or her employer. Anyone who has ever worked for or around me knows I
value, above all else, hard work and dedication, whether it’s knocking on doors, collecting
garbage, or representing a client. I have also never promised, implicitly or explicitly, to take any
action benefiting a prospective employer if it should choose to hire a person that I recommended.
Nor have I ever recommended someone for a job with an expectation or understanding that the
prospective employer would hire that person to reward me for an action it believed I took. I do
not inquire into an employer’s rationale for making particular hiring decisions, nor do I treat that
employer differently depending on those decisions. This has been my practice for decades.
If there was credible evidence that I had engaged in criminal misconduct, which I most certainly
did not, I would be charged with a crime. But I have not, and with good reason because there is
nothing wrong or illegal about making job recommendations, regardless of what people inside
ComEd may have hoped to achieve from hiring some of the people who were recommended.
Nonetheless, even though I am not alleged to have done anything in my official capacity as
Speaker of the House to assist ComEd and have not been accused of any wrongdoing, this
investigation has been used as a political weapon by those who seek to have me step down. I
anticipate some will be disappointed that I was not a party to this indictment and find it difficult
to swallow the fact that I have not been accused of or charged with any wrongdoing. These same
individuals will likely claim this indictment should end my tenure as a public official, even
though it alleges no criminal conduct on my part, nor does it allege I had knowledge of any
criminal conduct by others.
Some individuals have spent millions of dollars and worked diligently to establish a false
narrative that I am corrupt and unethical. I have publicly ignored their antics because those who
know me and work with me know that this rhetoric is simply untrue. The truth is that I have
never engaged in any inappropriate or criminal conduct. Despite baseless speculation alluding to
the contrary, I have always gone to great lengths to ensure my conduct is legal and ethical, and
any claim to the contrary is patently false. I have always steadfastly worked to build a strong
Democratic Party and House Democratic Caucus in an effort to help the hardworking people of
Illinois.

Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan

But legislators, on both sides of the aisle, are not buying Madigan’s denials.

Madigan still trying to convince fellow Democrats to give him another two-year term in 2021. 

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