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Vistra CEO wondered aloud about “shady dealings going on between legislators and lobbyists and ComEd”

Thursday, Sep 12, 2019

* Bruce Rushton

During an Aug. 2 conference call with analysts, [Curt Morgan, Vistra president and chief executive officer] downplayed chances for significant energy legislation to pass the General Assembly during the upcoming veto session. Responding to a question from an analyst, the CEO said that media accounts of Commonwealth Edison lobbyists writing checks to a former political operative for House Speaker Michael Madigan who was fired after being caught up in a sexual harassment scandal likely will reduce chances for legislation that involves ComEd or Exelon, ComEd’s parent company.

The real problem is the federal investigation into the company’s lobbying activities.

* From the Tribune

ComEd recently confirmed in a report filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that both ComEd and parent company Exelon received a federal grand jury subpoena “requiring production of information concerning their lobbying activities” in Illinois. The report stated the companies have “pledged to cooperate fully” and were “expeditiously providing the requested information.”

* From the August 2nd conference call

Mike Weinstein — Credit Suisse — Analyst

Gotcha. And my second question is just — has to do with Illinois and the veto session that’s coming up as a staple during those discussions. Is there any — what — are you seeing any impact from some of the headlines that have come out recently about the investigation into House Speaker Madigan and the — there’s some speculation that maybe that might be affecting the outcome of the legislation or outcome of the veto session. I’m just wondering if you’re seeing any of that.

Curt Morgan — President and Chief Executive Officer

Yeaah. So I mean I do — I mean we, as we look at it, we think it could have an impact on whether something, broader energy legislation gets done in Illinois in the veto session. I mean I think it’s hard in my mind to see that legislators are going to embrace something that would include ComEd and Exelon significantly when they’re sort of wrapped in this cloud of controversy. Just politically, it feels like it could be difficult.

Now there’s still a lot of time before we get to the veto session in November, and some of this stuff could be put to the side. I did hear, again, I said this earlier. But Chris Crane, I think on their call, Exelon’s call, felt pretty confident that they could move forward. I mean Chris has a pretty good hand on the pulse of what goes on in Illinois.

So who am I to argue with him? What all I know is, is that we’ll be ready to move forward on our piece of legislation if there is a larger energy bill and hopefully be able to convince people that’s a good thing for them to do. We think it is, and we have a lot of reasons why we do think that, but we’ll see. But it is, Mike, it does — you got to believe it throws a little bit of a monkey wrench into all this, because it just casts a cloud over whether somehow there’s some shady dealings going on between legislators and lobbyists and ComEd. I mean — and then you turn around and do legislation with that same parties, it does make it a little bit different.

And I’m not saying that any of this is — I mean I, don’t have any reason to believe any of it. I don’t know anything about it. I just know how things work in life, and it would seem to me that that’s not going to make it any easier to do a broad energy bill. I hope that we’re able to do a broad energy bill.

I hope that all of this passes and everything will be fine. So that’s about as much as I can say about it.

* Related…

* ComEd, Peoples Gas testing whether money will speak to Lightfoot: Since the first day of March, 55 cents of every dollar execs at ComEd and parent Exelon have donated to politicians has gone to the mayor’s campaign fund. For Peoples Gas, it’s 62 cents of every dollar.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

6 Comments »
  1. - DD - Thursday, Sep 12, 19 @ 12:58 pm:

    Nothing to see here. Move along. Move along.


  2. - dying HDO - Thursday, Sep 12, 19 @ 1:17 pm:

    I wonder if ComEd outsources some of its legal work to the same people who also do some of its lobbying work? Naaaa, no way. They could not be that incestuous, right?


  3. - DuPage - Thursday, Sep 12, 19 @ 1:24 pm:

    I wonder if all these political donations have influenced the lack of legislation that Comed opposes. The legislation to allow the Rock Island Clean Line to proceed seems to have vanished.


  4. - KBS - Thursday, Sep 12, 19 @ 1:42 pm:

    Sigh…I wonder if that means the Clean Energy Jobs Bill is dead for the year.


  5. - Wondering - Thursday, Sep 12, 19 @ 2:39 pm:

    Does Vistra- Dynegy have any lobbyists? Have they ever made any contributions?


  6. - Not for Nothing - Thursday, Sep 12, 19 @ 3:35 pm:

    Here’s the transcript of the Exelon call that he refers to. https://www.google.com/amp/s/seekingalpha.com/amp/article/4280359-exelon-corporation-exc-ceo-christopher-crane-q2-2019-results-earnings-call-transcript


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