* 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 - https://www.ilga.gov/house/committees/101Documents/BSPE/Transcript%20Sept.%2029,%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 https://www.justice.gov/usao-ndil/press-release/file/1295241/download
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.
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.