* The Tribune has a new story up about ComEd and Exelon lobbyists and their connections to Speaker Madigan and others. It’s pretty similar to the WBEZ story from earlier this week. But this paragraph has its most succinct explanation yet for what the feds appear to be after…
As part of the investigation, authorities are scrutinizing certain ComEd executives and have zeroed in on payments through the company’s vast network of consultants to some individuals who seemed to have done little actual work, the source said. The payments were aimed at currying favor with certain lawmakers while circumventing lobbying disclosure rules, the source added.
That last bit about “currying favor” with lawmakers is new. Click here for a previous version.
* Also from today’s WBEZ blockbuster…
The practice of embedding clout-heavy contractors and hires on the company’s payroll offers a way to gain legislative favors outside of public scrutiny. It’s a small investment with potential to pay huge gains if the utility runs the legislative table in Springfield, as it has in years past.
Both outlets are basically saying the same thing here.
* And that made me think of this passage in a recent WBEZ story…
ComEd ended its Springfield lobbying contract with Elgin-based Stratagem Consulting Group on Oct. 3, WBEZ has learned. The firm is co-owned by 36th Ward Ald. Gilbert Villegas, Jr., who is Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s floor leader, trusted with guiding major legislative initiatives through the City Council. […]
Villegas said he profited from its deal with ComEd and all of the firm’s clients.
But on Friday, he also told WBEZ that he did not do any work for ComEd personally under that deal. Villegas was not a registered lobbyist for the company in Springfield. Stratagem’s lobbyists for ComEd were Villegas’ business partner, Elgin City Council member Baldemar Lopez, and another man.
Until last week, Villegas was the most prominent member of disgraced former Rep. Luis Arroyo’s political organization.
Let’s make this clear: I do not know if Ald. Villegas is under federal suspicion, nor do I know if his firm’s ComEd contract is being looked at. But he shared profits from ComEd even though he didn’t register as a ComEd lobbyist and was super-close to then-Rep. Arroyo. That’s all I’m saying. Period.