Beleaguered Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan could soon be asked to publicly explain his dealings with ComEd.
At least that’s what Republicans were planning Wednesday on the eve of the first meeting of a special bipartisan legislative panel convened to explore the political and legal minefield.
“We have an admission of facts from Commonwealth Edison to the federal prosecutor’s office that have laid out a series of very concerning occurrences that happened,” state Rep. Tom Demmer, R-Dixon, said. “I think that as of right now, those facts are uncontested. We’d invite the speaker to contest those facts if he does not believe that those are accurate.”
A day before the Thursday meeting, Demmer said at a news conference that he and his GOP colleagues on the panel — Deanne Mazzochi of Westmont and Grant Wehrli of Naperville — will seek answers to the “legitimate, good-faith questions being asked” by their peers in the General Assembly and the public as part of the committee investigating any potential wrongdoing by Madigan.
The object is to discern whether Madigan behaved in a manner unbecoming of a legislator and/or behaved in a way that breached the public trust.
* Here’s who the Republicans want to testify…
House Speaker Michael Madigan, Michael McClain, Anne Pramaggiore, Fidel Marquez, John Hooker, Jay D. Doherty, Michael R. Zalewski, any individual currently or formerly employed by Commonwealth Edison with knowledge of the matters contained in the Deferred Prosecution Agreement.
I’m thinking none of those named people are gonna speak. The committee could, in theory, subpoena witnesses, but that would require Democratic cooperation and the witnesses can always take the Fifth.
* Anyway, the hearings are on hold until the committee hears back from the US Attorney’s office to see whether it wants them to back off (which is what happened to then-Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s investigation of then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich) or if it’s OK to proceed and under what terms. [ADDING: The US Attorney allowed an FBI special agent to testify at Blagojevich’s impeachment trial under ” sharply limited” terms.]
Lawmakers bristled as they discussed how to proceed after they unanimously agreed to contact the U.S. attorney’s office about how they can conduct their own investigation of Madigan without interfering with the ongoing criminal investigation.
They did not set another hearing date.
Rep. Natalie Manley, D-Joliet, sought clarification as to what it is that the committee is investigating considering that the speaker faces no criminal criminal charges himself.
Ronald Safer, a former federal prosecutor who is representing Durkin in the House investigation of Madigan, responded by noting that the deferred prosecution agreement between ComEd and prosecutors itself is evidence of factual wrongdoing, and it warrants investigation of Madigan by the committee.
I’m gonna nitpick a bit here and say the feds have not yet presented any evidence of specific wrongdoing by Madigan himself. Others, yes. Lots.
* Center Square…
Republican member, state Rep. Grant Wehrli, R-Naperville, said Madigan has to respond to what was laid out in the deferred prosecution agreement ComEd entered into.
“Here we have statements of fact and if the Speaker doesn’t refute them, I think the logical conclusion can be drawn,” Wehrli said.
Rep. Wehrli is not a big fan of the 5th Amendment…
Wehrli beat the drum on that story for three solid years, but nothing ever came of it.
* To be super clear, I’m not saying that the feds won’t get Madigan. They could very well succeed. And, as I wrote in Crain’s, I’m not sympathetic to the House Democrats’ grumblings about these hearings…
So is Madigan right that this is all about politics? […]
But, really, who cares? Madigan isn’t answering questions, so maybe this will help shine a little light on things. And the committee won’t do much except take testimony. The panel is evenly divided between the two parties, and three staunch Madigan loyalists will be there to stop any majority vote to proceed with discipline. The open-minds thing goes both ways.
And if the Republican maneuver and Pritzker’s subsequent comments about how Madigan ought to answer the committee’s questions make House Democrats angry, well, so be it. Only a tiny handful of them have spoken up about Madigan, and even fewer have called on him to resign. That’s their prerogative, but it also means they’ve deliberately chosen this path. You wanted it, you got it, so deal with it.