* Press release…
On August 31, 2020, Illinois House Republican Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) filed a petition to form a Special Investigative Committee. The subject of the petition is Illinois House Speaker Michael J. Madigan and surrounds information from the Deferred Prosecution Agreement entered into by ComEd and the United States Attorney’s Office. The petition was signed by House Republican Leader Jim Durkin, Rep. Andrew Chesney (R-Freeport) and Rep. Ryan Spain (R-Peoria).
“Given the facts admitted by ComEd for its nine-year-long scheme to bribe Speaker Madigan, the Illinois House of Representatives must do its job and conduct a thorough investigation,” Leader Durkin said.
The House Republican members appointed to the Special Investigative Committee are Reps. Tom Demmer (R-Dixon), Deanne Mazzochi (R-Elmhurst) and Grant Wehrli (R-Naperville).
The U.S. Attorney’s Office has been advised of the petition and the legislative process moving forward. It is Leader Durkin’s intention not to interfere in any way with the federal investigation.
(House Rule 91) 91. Special Investigating Committee.
(a) Disciplinary proceedings may be commenced by filing with the Speaker and the Minority Leader a petition, signed by 3 or more members of the House, for a special investigating committee. The petition shall contain the alleged charge or charges that, if true, may subject the member named in the petition to disciplinary action by the House and may include any other factual information that supports the charge or charges.
(b) Upon filing the petition, a special investigating committee consisting of 6 members shall be created. The Speaker shall appoint 3 members from the majority caucus and the Minority Leader shall appoint 3 members from the minority caucus. The Speaker shall appoint the Chairperson from among the 6 members. Members signing the petition may not be appointed to the special investigating committee. The contents of a petition for a special investigating committee shall be confidential until the appointment of all members except as to the member named, the members signing it, the Speaker, the Minority Leader, and the members of a special investigating committee.
(c) The Chairperson shall give reasonable notice of all meetings to the member named in the petition and to the public. All meetings of the special investigating committee shall be open to the public, unless, pursuant to Article IV, Section 5 (c) of the Illinois Constitution, the House votes by the affirmative vote of 79 members to hold proceedings in executive session. The Clerk shall keep an audio recording and transcripts of all meetings.
(d) The member named in the petition has the right to counsel during all meetings of the special investigating committee.
(e) The Chairperson may establish procedural rules (subject to the approval of the Speaker). The Committee may, in the discretion of the Chairperson, administer oaths and compel by subpoena (subject to Rules 4 (c) (9)) any person to appear and give testimony as a witness or produce papers, documents, or other materials relevant to the charge or charges.
(f) This Rule may be suspended only by unanimous consent.
Couldn’t help but notice there are two Tier One targets on that committee, Wehrli and Mazzochi.
* From House Speaker Michael Madigan…
“When I learned that Minority Leader Jim Durkin and two Republican members requested the House of Representatives establish an investigative committee related to the ComEd deferred prosecution agreement, I immediately recused myself and designated House Majority Leader Greg Harris to handle all aspects of this matter.
“As I have stated previously, I have never made a legislative decision with improper motives. The notion that the passage of two consequential pieces of energy legislation was tied to the hiring or retention of a few individuals is seriously mistaken. Those bills had the broad support of Democrats 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. Rep. Durkin knows this because Republican members and staff were directly involved in the negotiations of these bills. They witnessed firsthand that House Democrats challenged representatives of ComEd and Exelon on critical portions of their proposed bills. Rep. Durkin knows it, and all those actually involved in the process know it.
“The law does not prohibit members of the General Assembly from making job recommendations. If Rep. Durkin wants to question whether legislators should be allowed to make job recommendations, I encourage him to be transparent and disclose all of the jobs he has requested or lobbyists he has recommended over the years. He should also disclose the various actions he personally took to pass the energy bills, both in 2011 and 2016.
“The request by Rep. Durkin and his members is a political stunt only months away from one of the most consequential elections of our lifetimes. Republicans don’t want to focus on the fact that we have a federal administration that has used the White House to prop up Donald Trump’s wealthy campaign donors and friends at the expense of the American people. The Republicans don’t want people to focus on the nearly 200,000 COVID-19 deaths or the countless number of Illinoisans who have lost their jobs, healthcare coverage and retirement savings due to Trump’s mismanaged COVID-19 response. They certainly don’t want people to draw attention to the intense racial divisions Donald Trump relishes.
“I can’t identify one thing Rep. Durkin and the Illinois Republican Party have done to help Illinois residents struggling from a global pandemic and a weakened economy. Rather than focusing on ways to get us out of Donald Trump’s mess, Republicans have spent their time and dollars trying to convince people I am to blame for the type of corruption and unethical conduct Donald Trump emulates every day. They have spent hundreds of millions of dollars trying to convince people I am the problem so they don’t have to own up to their allegiance to Donald Trump and their political party. However, none of this is surprising, given that for four years Jim Durkin and the Illinois Republican Party sat on the sidelines and took millions of dollars from Bruce Rauner in exchange for their silence as Rauner tried to drive Illinois off a cliff and wage a war against Illinois’ working families.
“As they seek to distract and place blame, the Republicans are also working diligently to elect more Republicans in Springfield and suppress diverse Democratic voices in the 2021 redistricting process in order to install more pro-life and conservative members, backed by the influence of pharmaceutical and insurance companies.
“Like their president, the House Republicans know how to create a political circus, but time and again fail to show up when it’s time to govern.”
He poses some legit questions, but the feds ain’t sniffing around Durkin’s operation.
* House Majority Leader Greg Harris…
“On Monday three members of the House Republican caucus, including Leader Jim Durkin, filed a petition with the Speaker’s Office invoking House Rule 91, requesting the creation of a Special Investigative Committee to review the ComEd deferred prosecution agreement and determine if there are grounds to discipline Speaker Madigan. The petition was delivered to the Speaker’s Office in Springfield. Chief of Staff Jessica Basham notified the Speaker of the petition, and he immediately recused himself from consideration of this matter. The Speaker designated me to take the necessary actions required under the House Rules to create and administer the committee.
“The Illinois Constitution gives members of the House the authority to review the actions of its members and determine whether discipline is necessary, including overturning the results of an election or expelling a member. This is a power that should be judiciously exercised, and one that has rarely been used. In the past two decades, it has been invoked on two occasions, following the arrest and indictment of former Representatives Derrick Smith and Luis Arroyo.
“This is a political process, not action by law enforcement, and the rules are not the same as a court proceeding. The Speaker has not been accused of or charged with any criminal action or wrongdoing and is entitled to the presumption of innocence. With that said, it is important that we follow the process and provide the petitioners and the Speaker with an opportunity to address the petition.
“I have appointed Representatives Emanuel Chris Welch, who will serve as chair, Elizabeth Hernandez and Natalie Manley to serve on this Committee alongside the Republican appointees, Representatives Tom Demmer, Deanne Mazzochi and Grant Wehrli. The Committee will conduct its business in accordance with all House Rules and with health recommendations to protect all those involved and help prevent the spread of COVID-19. All proceedings will be public.
“All further inquires related to this matter should be directed to Representative Welch.”
* Rep. Chris Welch…
Speaker Madigan, like anyone else deserves due process and a fair hearing. I am confident that with the members that were chosen by the House Majority Leader and by Leader Durkin that we will be able to provide the Speaker fairness. I look forward to a strident but fair debate on this matter.
The House Rules lay out no timeline for the commencement or the completion of the investigation. So, I reached out to the new chairman, Rep. Welch, who said he was not yet certain about what would happen and when.
“They filed it as we’re heading into a long holiday weekend,” Rep. Welch said of the Republicans and their petition, “So, we’re organizing as quickly as possible.”
…Adding… Eleni Demertzis of the House Republicans responds to Rep. Welch…
We filed the petition on Monday morning, and also filed our appointments with the Speaker’s Office the same day. Per House Rule 91, the petition has to remain confidential until all members are appointed.
* Either way, unless a bombshell is uncovered (unlikely), this ultimately isn’t going anywhere, although the Republicans can make significant hay during the hearings. The House Rules have this to say about the results of the investigation…
The special investigating committee shall determine if reasonable grounds exist to authorize charges against the member named in the petition that may result in disciplinary action by the House. The special investigating committee shall vote on each charge alleged in the petition by record vote. A motion to authorize a charge requires the affirmative vote of a majority of those appointed.
Emphasis added because all three of the committee’s Democrats are Madigan loyalists.
*** UPDATE 1 *** Gov. Pritzker was asked about the development earlier today…
As I have said all along, there are questions that need to be answered by the speaker. And perhaps the creation of this legislative committee will actually get some of those answers. So, I favor more information, more transparency. And I encourage the speaker and anyone they may call to give the answers to the questions that this committee will ask.
* Is this a political stunt?
This is something that the House of Representatives has a rule about. Any member can call for this, any group of members can call for this. I hope that this is not a political stunt. I hope instead that they’re going to be seeking real answers.
* Is it wrong for Speaker Madigan to say this is a distraction?…
That’s his opinion. I want to hear the answers.
* But this is campaign season, after all. And Madigan believes this is just more fuel for the divisiveness…
Oh, sure. Everything within the zone of an election, as you well know because you cover it every two years, everything seems to become hyper-political. But, again, there are legitimate questions and I’ve said that the speaker needs to answer those questions. Very important.
*** UPDATE 2 *** I neglected to post the HGOP petition to create the special committee. Click here.