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Rebutting the “whataboutism” on Durkin

Wednesday, Dec 9, 2020

* There’s been a lot of “whataboutism” surrounding House Republican Leader Jim Durkin’s brief mentions in the Mike McClain/ComEd emails released before Thanksgiving. I asked Durkin’s spokesperson, Eleni Demertzis, if she’d like to get her side completely on the record. Here you go…


With the slew of misinformation and “spin” being pushed by the very Chairman of the Special Investigating Committee into Speaker Madigan and potential “conduct unbecoming of a legislator,” I felt that it was important to clarify what the SIC is supposed to be investigating and what it is not.

The SIC was formed because the Petition described a decade-long bribery scheme by a major utility. The target of that bribery scheme was Speaker Michael Madigan. ComEd not only admitted to this scheme, but it also paid $200 million for its conduct. Since the filing of the Petition, the SIC has heard from one witness: David Glockner, the Executive Vice President of Compliance and Audit at Exelon Corporation and all of its operating companies. Mr. Glockner testified under oath at the September 29, 2020 Special Investigating Committee in Springfield, Illinois, that Speaker Madigan was the object of the bribery scheme.

This testimony and the admissions in the DPA are direct evidence that a sophisticated company paid millions of dollars to bribe Speaker Madigan. These are not unproven charges. These are not rumors. These are not random emails. They are testimonial admissions that the bribery scheme existed. In any other governing body in America, this would be an earth-shattering revelation. Not in Illinois.

But even in Illinois, this direct and powerful evidence is more than sufficient for the SIC to recommend the formation of a disciplinary committee. If some members of the SIC believe, incredibly, that further investigation is necessary, they should get about it. Subpoena witnesses. This is not a cocktail party to which people should be invited. This is an investigative committee investigating the most serious of circumstances against one of the State’s most powerful politicians. If Speaker Madigan wants to testify that Commonwealth Edison poured millions of dollars down the drain when they were trying to bribe him, the Committee should hear his explanation and see how it stands up to cross-examination. If he is not willing to do so, that speaks volumes.

That is what this investigation is about.

Unfortunately, it is necessary to address what this SIC is not about. Instead of doing the work of the SIC, some people have sought to distract the public and the press from the extraordinary evidence against the Speaker. They say, “There is nothing wrong with job recommendations and all this is about job recommendations.” Yes and no. There is nothing wrong about job recommendations. Most people, including legislators, have made job recommendations. The investigations by the United States Department of Justice and the SIC have nothing to do with legitimate job recommendations. This scheme is not about Commonwealth Edison’s not hiring; it paid millions to people close to Speaker Madigan who did no work. This was not about jobs; it was about buying influence. To paint this as an investigation into job recommendations is to paint a zebra white and try to sell it as a horse.

As Leader Durkin said at his press conference last week: “The purpose of the federal investigation and also the special investigative committee is not about job recommendations,” Durkin said Wednesday. “It is about a nine-year bribery scandal between Commonwealth Edison and Mike Madigan, pure and simple. And that’s what we’re trying to get at.”

Then they want to distract from whose conduct is under investigation. Chairman Welch’s request for documents including a roster of names that have nothing to do with the DPA, search warrants or indictments is a blatant attempt to distract people from the subject of this inquiry. There is one person whose influence ComEd admitted it schemed to buy: Speaker Madigan. There is one person whose associates and friends were paid millions of dollars for no work: Speaker Madigan. There is one person who is at the center of this corrupt scheme: Speaker Madigan.

In a low moment, one member of the SIC attempted to execute this scheme to distract the Committee from the work at hand and to throw mud at the Petitioner for daring to challenge Speaker Madigan’s conduct. She failed miserably.

    Rep. Hernandez – “And so the agreement to hire Leader Durkin’s recommended candidate, Tom Walsh, even if done in part to curry favor with Durkin, was not this was not done in return for getting Leader Durkin’s support for a stream of benefits that Durkin would bestow upon ComEd or Exelon, including supporting FEJA, right?”

    David Glockner - “So I’m not aware that that particular hire was with an effort to curry favor with a with Leader Durkin. I think, really, the rest of your question was really a characterization, which I prefer not to respond to.”

    Page 147 -,%202020%20Hearing.pdf

This inquiry was beneath the dignity of the SIC and the witness appropriately refused to dignify it.

To further put this issue to bed: After a years-long, ongoing federal investigation that has led to many high-profile indictments AND ComEd admitting to bribing Speaker Madigan and/or his associates AND ComEd paying the largest fine in Illinois history – All of the lobbyists suspected of wrongdoing have, at this point, either been charged by the federal government or let go by ComEd.

That is not the case for any Republican lobbyist in either Chamber:

    • ComEd and Exelon have engaged in significant remedial measures to enhance their compliance program, including taking steps to ensure that employees and vendors ComEd identified as responsible for the conduct at issue are no longer employed by or have a relationship with ComEd.
    • ComEd Deferred Prosecution Agreement Page 9

The final strategy being employed to distract from the true work of the SIC is to read random emails completely out of context. The context of the pertinent inquiry is the DPA, the plea of guilty by a co-conspirator, the indictment of other co-conspirators, the hours of testimony of Glockner. That context sets forth a complex, long-standing and damning scheme to bribe the Speaker. The concept that this SIC should explore random emails unrelated to the conduct before the SIC is an insult to the intelligence of the people of the State of Illinois at whom these attempts to distract are aimed.

One example of the danger of doing so is an email in which Defendant McClain describes Tom Walsh’s son as being “Durkin’s political guy” when at the time of that email, both his sons were in high school and certainly not Leader Durkin’s “political guy.” Furthermore, Leader Durkin was unaware of what is referenced as his “agent” making any sort of request on his behalf. More to the point, Leader Durkin was not aware of a complex years-long bribery scheme to influence the Speaker. He would not have believed such a scheme could have been true. But it is.

The only way to find out the truth is to have the individuals on our list, Speaker Madigan included, testify under oath in front of the Special Investigating Committee – so the Committee can conclude its work.

Eleni Demertzis

By the way, if Speaker Madigan would like to submit something, I’d be more than happy to publish it in full, as I did here.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - NIU Grad - Wednesday, Dec 9, 20 @ 11:51 am:

    We’ll see if Steve Brown can pull of a statement without mentioning “working families,” “Trump,” or “Rauner.”

  2. - Three Dimensional Checkers - Wednesday, Dec 9, 20 @ 11:51 am:

    I read the email. Leader Durkin was pretty clearly trying to benefit from Madigan’s suction and largesse at ComEd. It doesn’t make what Madigan did right, but it makes Durkin a hypocrite and blowhard.

  3. - This Just In - Wednesday, Dec 9, 20 @ 11:53 am:

    Service ace . . . . . .the ball returns to the Speaker’s court . . .

  4. - Excitable Boy - Wednesday, Dec 9, 20 @ 11:56 am:

    Lots of words there about how this investigation is all about Madigan, not many explaining Durkin’s involvement with McClain and ComEd. I hope this takes down Madigan, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t also find out what Durkin did or didn’t do.

  5. - SumGai1986 - Wednesday, Dec 9, 20 @ 12:00 pm:

    ==We’ll see if Steve Brown can pull of a statement without mentioning “working families,” “Trump,” or “Rainer”==

    Freaking hilarious, do people actually believe when Brown or Madigan say that?

    Working families should have an asterisk next to it…

    *Families working because of, and on behalf of, ME

  6. - This Just In - Wednesday, Dec 9, 20 @ 12:02 pm:

    =Lots of words there about how this investigation is all about Madigan, not many explaining Durkin’s involvement with McClain and ComEd=

    Is there any relationship at all between McClain and Durkin? Why would it need to be explained. McClain was Madigan’s guy. Just ask McClain - he made sure everybody in the building knew.

    If there is an investigation regarding Durkin, then the authorities will conduct one. To date, no such thing exists . . . .hence the “whataboutism”.

    See how that works?

  7. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Dec 9, 20 @ 12:03 pm:

    Honestly, no snark or lean…

    I dunno if this helps Durkin at all.

    It’s close to, but not exactly to this point of… “I did nothing wrong”… and the difference, I guess, if one is an alleged target and he is not.

    So… I dunno if it helps.

    I don’t even know if it hurts, if that even makes sense.

  8. - JB13 - Wednesday, Dec 9, 20 @ 12:05 pm:

    Corruption knows no party.

    That said: If you try to make the ComEd scandal about anything other than the man who has served as speaker of the house for 40 years…
    Your partisanship is showing.

  9. - Wondering - Wednesday, Dec 9, 20 @ 12:05 pm:

    This sounds like Durkin trying to explain away his behavior which could easily be seen as conduct unbecoming as well by his standard. Also, just because ComEd admitted to trying to influence Madigan, it does not mean Madigan had personal knowledge of the scheme. Didn’t Mr. Glockner testify Madigan had no personal knowledge of this alleged influence scheme?

  10. - Not Again - Wednesday, Dec 9, 20 @ 12:08 pm:

    Smart play, shows off what joke the Dems have made of their MJM issue and also helps Eleni when Welch keeps trying to gin up the story.

  11. - Socially DIstant Watcher - Wednesday, Dec 9, 20 @ 12:10 pm:

    Eleni’s good, no doubt. But this boils down to:

    The complaint filed by my boss was an effort to get dirt on Speaker Madigan. It was not supposed to backfire and produce dirt on my boss. So let’s keep the focus on Madigan, ‘k?

  12. - Bigtwich - Wednesday, Dec 9, 20 @ 12:13 pm:

    –Leader Durkin was not aware of a complex years-long bribery scheme to influence the Speaker.–

    So Leader Durkin’s defence is exactly the same as the Speaker’s.

  13. - don the legend - Wednesday, Dec 9, 20 @ 12:15 pm:

    If there ever was a perfect example of “if you’re explaining, you’re losing”. This might be it.

  14. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Dec 9, 20 @ 12:20 pm:

    How exactly is this “smart”?

    It is a response to whataboutism, but if you read the words to the thoughts, are the words looking to show things in a different light due in the largest part of the circumstances of the two men?

    I mean, it’s not…

    “You can’t compare me, as I’ve done nothing to these thoughts”

    I don’t think it hurts, I don’t think it helps… it’s a heck of a marker, but it doesn’t necessarily shut the door either.

    I appreciate it, sure.

  15. - Candy Dogood - Wednesday, Dec 9, 20 @ 12:36 pm:

    ===If you try to make the ComEd scandal about anything other than ===

    There’s been a certain culture in Springfield for quite some time. Trying to hang the responsibility for that on one person is misguided.

  16. - Arock - Wednesday, Dec 9, 20 @ 12:41 pm:

    If Madigan has dirt on Durkin on this ComEd matter I would assumed that he wouldn’t be getting investigated right now by the SIC.

  17. - SpiDem - Wednesday, Dec 9, 20 @ 12:49 pm:

    As I’ve said repeatedly, no one, including Durkin, has ever expected that this committee would lead to discipline of the Speaker. This is about politics.

    After months without a hearing, and a frankly bizarre rant by the chair of the committee on his Twitter account, this letter seems to be more about re-setting the political narrative before the committee meets again Monday.

    The chair has tipped his hand — he want’s to ignore the mountain of incriminating emails referencing “our Friend” and instead focus on comparatively tiny number of emails trying to help Tom Walsh. No we know how Durkin plans to respond.

    In the end, this investigation, and the constant public drumbeat around the Speaker is dragging him down. Don’t believe me, ask the Representative with 54 (and dropping)

  18. - North Park - Wednesday, Dec 9, 20 @ 12:52 pm:

    What ever happened with Durkin’s sister-in-law’s unqualified hiring at the Tollway?

  19. - Nagidam - Wednesday, Dec 9, 20 @ 12:55 pm:

    Demertzis wrote a lot of words that really made the point she was trying to make confusing. The simple fact is from the Speaker all the way down to the janitor people under the dome make recommendations for jobs. Secretaries have recommended friends as have legislators. The key difference is ComEd is not trying to influence the Minority Leader with no-work jobs or intern set a sides for his district. This is completely a distraction and whataboutism.

  20. - phocion - Wednesday, Dec 9, 20 @ 1:00 pm:

    ==What ever happened with Durkin’s sister-in-law’s unqualified hiring at the Tollway?==

    Dunno. What ever happened with the Tollway hiring dozens of unqualified people at huge salaries under the Pritzker administration?

  21. - hesaid - Wednesday, Dec 9, 20 @ 1:03 pm:

    So, a company that admitted to an illegal scheme to influence a legislative leader wouldn’t have attempted to inflence another leader using the same tactic of hiring someone recommended by a leader? Really? Also, “I’m not aware” isn’t a denial.

  22. - 47th Ward - Wednesday, Dec 9, 20 @ 1:03 pm:

    ===That is what this investigation is about.===

    It’s more than Speaker Madigan. The e-mails released, including two from or on behalf of Leader Durkin, came just as ComEd was pushing legislation that would increase its profitability.

    Yes, it appears Madigan was the center of that effort to influence, but Cullerton’s name came up as did Durkin’s. Therefore, the investigation is not solely about Madigan’s role in this, oversized as it was. The investigation is about how a huge corporation buys influence and uses that influence to its advantage by passing major legislation.

    Maybe Eleni can look up the roll call votes on the various ComEd bills to see for herself?

  23. - BeenThereDoneThat - Wednesday, Dec 9, 20 @ 1:06 pm:

    Poorly written. McClain wasn’t referring to Tom Walsh’s children. He was referring to David Walsh - Tom’s brother - who IS Durkin’s political guy.

  24. - TheInvisibleMan - Wednesday, Dec 9, 20 @ 1:06 pm:

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who sees this as coming off as “We are supposed to be investigating Madigan, not any republicans even if they did something unethical.”

    This does not help Durkin very much. What’s wrong with questions regarding the potential involvement of Durkin as well if that’s where the investigation leads?

    I’d like to see those questions answered too. Especially the relationship between Durkin and Ameren. Especially as Ameren benefited ever more in customer charges allowed under the legislation passed than ComEd.

  25. - Gary Hart - Wednesday, Dec 9, 20 @ 1:22 pm:

    I mean the name “Durkin” did

  26. - southsider - Wednesday, Dec 9, 20 @ 1:24 pm:

    == Furthermore, Leader Durkin was unaware of what is referenced as his “agent” making any sort of request on his behalf. More to the point, Leader Durkin was not aware of a complex years-long bribery scheme to influence the Speaker. He would not have believed such a scheme could have been true. But it is. ==

    The logic here is mind-blowing.

    There is evidence someone made recommendations allegedly on behalf of Madigan. There is evidence someone made recommendations allegedly on behalf of Durkin. While the person making the recommendations and the number doesn’t appear to be the same, the actions are identical.

    She wants us to believe it’s ok for Jim, since he allegedly didn’t know, but it’s conduct unbecoming a legislator for Madigan, even though he allegedly didn’t know.

    You can’t have it both ways. Either both or neither engaged in conduct unbecoming based on actions taken by their “agents.”

  27. - Nova - Wednesday, Dec 9, 20 @ 1:51 pm:

    Having read all of the emails, here is the difference between recommending people for jobs or contracts (which the Speaker is correct, is not a crime) and bribery. Durkin was interested in helping someone get a contract. Cullerton referred a couple people for jobs. These requests were very transparent and to the point, and generated little in the way of follow up by McClain or ComEd.

    On the other hand, almost every single thing requested by McClain on behalf of Our Frien, generated numerous follow up by McClain, sometimes in vaguely threatening language. That is not recommending people for a job. It’s bribery. And it is illegal.

  28. - Burnt Band-Aid - Wednesday, Dec 9, 20 @ 1:58 pm:

    Jim Durkin needs to be reminded of past history. Rod Blagojevich beat Judy Baar Topinka by blowing up a few instances in which she took campaign money from businesses with state contracts. Blagojevich, of course, did this on steroids but he completely took that issue off the table because JBT also took money from businesses profiting from state contracts.

    What was she thinking????

    Jim Durkin can equivocate all he wants. He is implicated in the same scandal as the Speaker. He has lost credibility and if he really is appalled by Madigan’s behavior, he should resign and set a good example. What is the message here? A little bit of quid pro is OK but a lot must be condemned? Sorry, but his excuses sound hollow.

  29. - Precinct Captain - Wednesday, Dec 9, 20 @ 2:17 pm:

    Notice how she only addressed one case. There are other cases in the emails about Durkin’s pressure.

  30. - Precinct Captain - Wednesday, Dec 9, 20 @ 2:27 pm:

    ==- North Park - Wednesday, Dec 9, 20 @ 12:52 pm:==


  31. - Annoyed - Wednesday, Dec 9, 20 @ 2:30 pm:

    From a quick internet search, I see ComEd in 2013 gave ‘Citizens for Durkin’ $5k and the Illinois House Republican Organization $15k. Golly, wonder if those contributions were to influence someone?

  32. - Quizzical - Wednesday, Dec 9, 20 @ 3:44 pm:

    “Leader Durkin had very little Influence to peddle, so ComEd made a proportional attempt to influence him.”

  33. - Annonin' - Wednesday, Dec 9, 20 @ 4:08 pm:

    Guessin Team Durkie made an unforced error stirring this pot. Hope nobody asks Senate GOPies same questions

  34. - Thomas Paine - Wednesday, Dec 9, 20 @ 6:03 pm:

    === There is nothing wrong about job recommendations. Most people, including legislators, have made job recommendations. ===

    That’s pretty much Madigan’s argument.

  35. - Pot calling kettle - Wednesday, Dec 9, 20 @ 6:21 pm:

    ==Leader Durkin was unaware of what is referenced as his “agent” making any sort of request on his behalf.==

    Probably my favorite quote in the whole thing because it is also Madigan’s defense and the key to how both these guys have worked the system for years. They have “agents” like McClain who have free rein to make deals on their behalf without asking in order to shield the top dog with deniability. A pox on both of their houses.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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