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WBEZ digs into ComEd’s corporate filings and turns up a whole lot of stuff

Friday, Nov 8, 2019

* Good work if you can get it, I suppose

Before his offices were raided by the FBI last spring, lobbyist and Chicago public affairs impresario Jay Doherty was paid more than $3.1 million by Commonwealth Edison — vastly more than he had previously disclosed, federal records show.

Doherty is among dozens of clout-heavy contractors the utility employed to build a dominant political influencing machine, powered by ratepayer dollars from its more than 4 million customers across northern Illinois. […]

Up until now, it’s been difficult to know which outside people and firms ComEd hires because the private sector company is not subject to open-records laws that apply to taxpayer-funded agencies.

But a WBEZ analysis of federal regulatory filings found dozens of companies and individuals who’ve been on ComEd’s payroll and are connected to political A-listers like House Speaker Michael Madigan and indicted Chicago Ald. Ed Burke.

There’s too much in that story to adequately excerpt, so go read the whole thing.

Highlights include a big ComEd contract to Power Washing Pros., which is run by a longtime ally of Sen. Martin Sandoval. Industrial Fence is another ComEd contractor. Sandoval and former Rep. Luis Arroyo both publicly scolded the Tollway after the company was passed over for a contract. The Statehouse lobbying firm co-owned by Ald. Gil Villegas, Mayor Lightfoot’s city council floor leader who wants to replace Arroyo as 36th Ward Democratic Committeeman, represents Primera Engineers, another ComEd contractor. And, of course, Ald. Ed Burke’s former law firm represented ComEd in property tax matters. Again, go read the whole thing.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

54 Comments »
  1. - Chicago Cynic - Friday, Nov 8, 19 @ 9:24 am:

    $3.1 MILLION dollars. What did Jay do for $3.1 million. That’s an enormous amount of money for a lobbyist nobody ever sees in Springfield. This thing stinks…big time.

    And beyond anything else, it’s time for Jay to step down from the presidency of City Club. That organization will face an existential threat as long as he presides.


  2. - Steve - Friday, Nov 8, 19 @ 9:26 am:

    Those are some icy waters . The picture says it all. At the time of that picture you have in one photo: 1) the guy with the biggest campaign fund in Illinois 2) The boss of ComEd 3) Wife of the guy with the biggest campaign fund who’s now Chief Justice. Plus, on tax matters ComEd goes to the guy with the big campaign fund. It’s the conflicted world of Illinois politics. It appears the Danny Solis investigation might have something to do with all this.


  3. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Nov 8, 19 @ 9:30 am:

    The city of Chicago is the largest small town in the world.

    Example? The polar plunge picture.


  4. - 47th Ward - Friday, Nov 8, 19 @ 9:34 am:

    ===it’s time for Jay to step down from the presidency of City Club===

    Agreed, and he can take Tom Donovan with him.


  5. - Just Me 2 - Friday, Nov 8, 19 @ 9:36 am:

    How sad is it we have a daily corruption post now? We pay the corruption tax far too much in this messed up State, but everyone on this blog is enjoying the fat far too much in my opinion.

    I’ll stop there before I say something ban-worthy.


  6. - Steve - Friday, Nov 8, 19 @ 9:44 am:

    - Just Me 2 -

    There will probably be many more corruption posts. Why ? Because it’s part of the news in Illinois. Everyone isn’t not enjoying “the fat”. Someone has to pay. Some more than others.


  7. - Sonny - Friday, Nov 8, 19 @ 9:45 am:

    My guess is Jay wasn’t keeping that money, he was washing it, basically acting as a candy man to push ComEd’s interests. This thing is a mess. The question is who was managing and who was pulling all the strings in this scheme.


  8. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Nov 8, 19 @ 9:46 am:

    === but everyone on this blog===

    Really? Everyone? You must be a hoot to be friends with, generalizing and stereotyping. Good to know that about you, and solely about you. Congratulations.

    To the post,

    Here’s the rub;

    The institutional acceptance of, let’s say, Jay Doherty, and how he’s allegedly gone about his business, the real issue of Chicago/Illinois corruption is allowing the interwoven institutional paths of “getting things done”, something Chicago and Illinois embraces.

    The same folks who complain, at times they look to see if a “friend” knows “a guy” for this or that.

    The culture isn’t in of itself corrupt for it’s own sake, it’s embracing the “Chicago/Illinois” culture which at times borders outside a fully clean way of doing things, and some cross a line… over and over.

    Next time you ask if “you know somebody who”… that’s the baseline bedrock of the culture.


  9. - SSL - Friday, Nov 8, 19 @ 10:07 am:

    It really isn’t much of a surprise is it? Maybe the scope of the corruption is, but Illinois mastered the art of corruption a long time ago.

    Sad that all this comes up just when JB is on the cusp of delivering a fair tax. Maybe that tax increase wouldn’t be necessary if all the corruption wasn’t going on?


  10. - Three Dimensional Checkers - Friday, Nov 8, 19 @ 10:12 am:

    The Feds have their benefits. There are benefits laying around in plain sight for everyone to see. The question is can the Feds prove people received those benefits because of extortion, fraud, or other RICO predicates.

    This goes beyond ward healing or helping a friend out with a job. Most people get a little help from someone along their career if they are being honest. This goes far beyond that. People are getting filthy rich because they are loyal to politician or political organization. It’s like Russia or China where the only way you can do business in certain areas is if you are in good with the political authorities.


  11. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Nov 8, 19 @ 10:13 am:

    === Doherty did nothing wrong.===

    Agreed.

    Jay Doherty is no different “in process” than… say… Dorothy Brown… or Martin Sandoval…


  12. - JS Mill - Friday, Nov 8, 19 @ 10:20 am:

    =Up until now, it’s been difficult to know which outside people and firms ComEd hires because the private sector company is not subject to open-records laws that apply to taxpayer-funded agencies.=

    Given how much they receive in corp welfare from the state one could make a very strong argument that they are no longer a “private sector” company.

    Something that might help is new legislation that would make companies that get public money subject to OMA and FOIA.

    I am sure none of the ILGA would be interested in that since they all get the goodies.


  13. - Ally McBeal - Friday, Nov 8, 19 @ 10:21 am:

    I apologize if this is off topic and irrelevant but I could have sworn Doherty identified as a Republican. Am I confusing him with someone else?


  14. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Nov 8, 19 @ 10:23 am:

    === It’s like Russia or China===

    Unless you’ve lived under the decades of real oppression under these regimes, this is hyperbole not needed to a truly dire situation here of a corruption being looked at with these actors.


  15. - Three Dimensional Checkers - Friday, Nov 8, 19 @ 10:29 am:

    === this is hyperbole===

    In one of the seminal books on Chicago politics, Don’t Make No Waves, Don’t Back No Losers, Milton Rakove compares the the Cook County Democrat Party to the Politburo. I guess that’s hyperbole too.


  16. - Rich Miller - Friday, Nov 8, 19 @ 10:29 am:

    ===Am I confusing him with someone else?===

    Yes. Dude is a Democrat. Has been since RFK days.


  17. - 47th Ward - Friday, Nov 8, 19 @ 10:32 am:

    ===Am I confusing him with someone else?===

    Former Alderman Brian Doherty is a Republican and is not related to Jay as far as I know.


  18. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Nov 8, 19 @ 10:35 am:

    === Cook County Democrat Party to the Politburo===

    Comparing the politics to the corruption is not the same…


  19. - Senator Clay Davis - Friday, Nov 8, 19 @ 10:36 am:

    ==Jay wasn’t keeping that money, he was washing it, basically acting as a candy man to push ComEd’s interests==

    ^This^

    ComEd has spent a century devising unsavory but legal ways to channel money to politically-beneficial entities through intermediaries. It will be interesting to see what turns up as this investigation of Doherty and the army of ComEd contract lobsters moves forward.


  20. - Ally McBeal - Friday, Nov 8, 19 @ 10:39 am:

    Yes, Brian Doherty! That is who I was thinking of. Thanks!


  21. - Gallactic Cupcake - Friday, Nov 8, 19 @ 10:40 am:

    If only there was some type of citizens utility board made up of ratepayers that could root out this stuff.


  22. - Three Dimensional Checkers - Friday, Nov 8, 19 @ 10:49 am:

    ===Comparing the politics to the corruption is not the same===

    The politics is the corruption. That’s one of the meanings of the book’s title. It was true in the 70s and is still true now.


  23. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Nov 8, 19 @ 10:52 am:

    === The politics is the corruption.===

    The Costa Nostra aspect is more apt.

    Especially since in the 70’s and today the infiltration thru, let’s say the First Ward, is obvious.


  24. - OneMan - Friday, Nov 8, 19 @ 10:52 am:

    Wow, even how they have to explain the number of entities that WBEZ has a relationship that showed up in their research shows how far ComEd’s reach reaches.


  25. - Flapdoodle - Friday, Nov 8, 19 @ 10:53 am:

    @TDC 10:29 –

    ==Milton Rakove compares the the Cook County Democrat Party to the Politburo. I guess that’s hyperbole too.==

    Yeah, pretty much. The Politburo could have people shot at will. Not sure things are quite like that even in Illinois.


  26. - Rabid - Friday, Nov 8, 19 @ 10:55 am:

    A lobster in hot water


  27. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Nov 8, 19 @ 10:56 am:

    Further, from the cite Rich has in the post;

    === Several of those students came from outside Sandoval’s district but used Acosta’s home address to claim in-district residency, including the son of reputed mobster Michael C. “Jaws” Giorango.===


  28. - RNUG - Friday, Nov 8, 19 @ 10:59 am:

    == The Politburo could have people shot at will. Not sure things are quite like that even in Illinois. ==

    But they can sure get thrown under the bus …


  29. - Working night and day... - Friday, Nov 8, 19 @ 11:01 am:

    Is it tellinf that WBEZ had to gonall the way to California to get a quote from a consumer advocate willing to call all of this what it is?


  30. - Three Dimensional Checkers - Friday, Nov 8, 19 @ 11:05 am:

    ===The Costa Nostra aspect is more apt.===

    I mean, that exists. I don’t think the politicians that play footsie with the Mob even really appreciate the type of people they’re dealing with. But, not today’s First Ward, lol. I don’t think Daniel La Spata is secretly taking orders from the Mob.

    Why didn’t Rahm Emanuel, Rahmbo, go after Burke when Burke clearly was behind the effort to keep him off the ballot? Was it that no one knew about Burke’s corruption? Of course not. It was the perception of Burke’s strength. The politics protected the corruption.

    And, the Politburo isn’t just the Stalin Great Terror. There were years of repression far below that level that yeah has a lot of similarities to political corruption now.


  31. - Soccermom - Friday, Nov 8, 19 @ 11:09 am:

    Okay. I’m an Illinois booster, and it pains me to think that we are outdone by wrongdoing in other states. But I would point out that the Kentucky legislature is threatening to overturn the results of the recent gubernatorial election. So let’s not get carried away with all this “only in Illinois” stuff.


  32. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Nov 8, 19 @ 11:09 am:

    === But, not today’s First Ward===

    Do yourself a solid.

    Find out “when” the First Ward magically changed in a new map, becoming the 42nd Ward… and what happened for that wanted change of perception.

    You kinda fell into what was the goal in changing the numeric symbolism of that Ward.

    When I see folks climbing fences and walls for freedom, arrested in the middle of the night fir no reason, mysterious deaths, then I’ll go all in on this comparable… outside… the purely political realm of comparison.


  33. - Lester Holt’s Mustache - Friday, Nov 8, 19 @ 11:24 am:

    == So let’s not get carried away with all this “only in Illinois” stuff.==

    C’mon soccermom, you know those things are entirely different. Not that I disagree with you on the KY legislature (although it’s only the senate prez saying that, everyone else is ready to throw Bevin overboard), but one doesn’t have anything to do with the other.


  34. - Three Dimensional Checkers - Friday, Nov 8, 19 @ 11:29 am:

    ===Find out “when” the First Ward magically changed in a new map, becoming the 42nd Ward… and what happened for that wanted change of perception.===

    I don’t know. I think the 42nd Ward is just downtown money interests now.

    You can compare things without arguing that they are equal. This is comparable to Putin’s Russia too. Not to the extent of how much Putin and the Russian Oligarch have enriched themselves (some believe he is actually the richest man in the world) or to the extent of the violence in Russia, but it is comparable.


  35. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Nov 8, 19 @ 11:32 am:

    === I think the 42nd Ward is just downtown money interests now.===

    Ok…

    === This is comparable to Putin’s Russia too.===

    It’s so comparable that these folks here are either under investigation or being indicted, oh, and the freedom the press, exposing it. Lots and lots of WBEZs exposing it, and the government investigating.

    Happens in Russia all the time, this kind of… scrutiny.

    Yikes, man…


  36. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Nov 8, 19 @ 11:34 am:

    === I think the 42nd Ward is just downtown money interests now.===

    “Now who’s being naive, Kay”


  37. - Louis G Atsaves - Friday, Nov 8, 19 @ 11:35 am:

    Just finished reading the WBEZ report. These reporters did an incredible job and need to be commended for their efforts.


  38. - No One Really - Friday, Nov 8, 19 @ 11:36 am:

    Has anyone launched an investigation into CUB’s extreme proximity to ComEd/Exelon since FEJA was enacted? Is anyone protecting consumers?


  39. - Three Dimensional Checkers - Friday, Nov 8, 19 @ 11:38 am:

    ===It’s so comparable that these folks here are either under investigation or being indicted===

    No, but Putin rewards his political allies by enriching them through highly state controlled business. Why do you think Arroyo and Sandoval were so concerned with power washers and fencing? That’s part of Russian political culture, apparently like it is here. Someone should sent them a bottle to Putinka vodka to sooth their troubled minds.


  40. - Lester Holt’s Mustache - Friday, Nov 8, 19 @ 11:38 am:

    To the post, OW brings up “Governors own” a lot and it applies both to politics as well as governing. Whether JB likes it or not, he has unwittingly stepped into a spot as the leader of a party right before a simple corruption investigation metastasizes into something huge that might affect the entire party. He’s done OK so far, I think, answering questions about this stuff - but he better stay nimble because he needs to avoid this becoming the major story of his first term. He doesn’t want to be answering questions about this stuff for the next year or more, which he will be if he isn’t willing to throw any and all subjects under the bus.


  41. - Drake Mallard - Friday, Nov 8, 19 @ 11:40 am:

    Wow, WBEZ came up with all of this but the Great panjandrum of Chicago truth the Tribune missed it? SHOCKING


  42. - Three Dimensional Checkers - Friday, Nov 8, 19 @ 11:45 am:

    ===“Now who’s being naive, Kay”===

    The cozy relationship between the political class and organized crime is another very significant feature of Russia’s political culture. You’re really making my points for me, friend.


  43. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Nov 8, 19 @ 11:46 am:

    === but Putin rewards his political allies by enriching them through highly state controlled business. Why do you think Arroyo and Sandoval were so concerned with power washers and fencing?===

    … and yet you ignore the exposure of these things, indictments, even the freedom of the press to move the story.

    Why this want it need to *be* Russia?

    It’s street-level graft, shakedowns, leverage that organized crime globally uses, and like Don Vito with those judges and politicians in his pocket, it’s counter TO the governing.

    What WBEZ has done, and - Louis G Atsaves - has it spot on, is this is commendable work, springing won’t find… in Russia. It’s embarrassing to think the mob-like graft here is the same as a totalitarian government running an oppression organization rewarding in the open it’s assistance.

    === That’s part of Russian political culture, apparently like it is here.===

    This weekend, watch all The Godfathers, both of them… that’s all that’s going on. These guys are penny ante, with a cigar shop, strip club included. It’s just the money and the players that confuse.


  44. - Rich Miller - Friday, Nov 8, 19 @ 11:47 am:

    Boys and girls, get off this Russia/Soviet Union stuff. Move along now. Deletions will follow.


  45. - DuPage Saint - Friday, Nov 8, 19 @ 11:57 am:

    That is the best picture ever. Explanation point
    I would love to have it with autographs. Rich could auction it off for charity in December at the City Club


  46. - Rich Miller - Friday, Nov 8, 19 @ 11:58 am:

    ===in December at the City Club ===

    Yeah, I’m thinking that ain’t gonna happen.


  47. - @misterjayem - Friday, Nov 8, 19 @ 12:01 pm:

    “How sad is it we have a daily corruption post now?”

    There’s nothing new about the corruption, only its daily exposure is new.

    New and very welcome.

    – MrJM


  48. - Three Dimensional Checkers - Friday, Nov 8, 19 @ 12:04 pm:

    My apologies, went too far off on a tangent. I definitely agree this is a very good article and seems to provide a lot of insight into what the Feds are investigating.


  49. - Orange is the new black - Friday, Nov 8, 19 @ 12:04 pm:

    Where is CUB? There have been 10 good articles about ComEd corruption in the last month and not one of them has had a quote from CUB. That smells just as bad as what the Feds are cooking.


  50. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Nov 8, 19 @ 12:18 pm:

    That’s on me. Apologies, Rich.

    Sorry.


  51. - walker - Friday, Nov 8, 19 @ 12:40 pm:

    Would love to see and comprehend the ROI on their lobbying expenses over the past decade.


  52. - Rich Miller - Friday, Nov 8, 19 @ 12:43 pm:

    ===comprehend the ROI on their lobbying expenses===

    Just one bill got them $200 million A YEAR for two nuke plants. That’s a pretty good ROI.


  53. - walker - Friday, Nov 8, 19 @ 1:11 pm:

    Rich, that’s assuming, of course, they wouldn’t have gotten that bill on its merits, without this level of lobbying. I must admit you make a good argument.


  54. - Payback - Friday, Nov 8, 19 @ 1:36 pm:

    Chicago Cynic @ 9:24 am- “…it’s time for Jay to step down from the presidency of City Club. That organization will face an existential threat as long as he presides.” It’s sad to see the City Club declining like this. The week after AG Kwame Raoul’s Oct. 21 luncheon at the Union League club, I got notice from City Club that Illinois State Police director Brendan Kelly’s speech scheduled for Nov. 18 was cancelled.

    Raoul’s speech tended towards “social justice” causes, but I didn’t hear anything about the AG investigating political corruption or ensuring the basic rule of law. I guess we have to depend on the federal authorities to act, same as the last eighty years in Illinois.


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