ILLINOIS (IRN) — While Democrats say Republicans are playing politics with the House investigation into Speaker Michael Madigan, a group promoting reforms said the issue is much bigger than that.
House Minority Leader Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs, Thursday demanded Gov. J.B. Pritzker push Madigan to testify to a House panel about ComEd admitting it paid bribes over nine years to Madigan associates to influence the speaker.
“Demand answers from the speaker or demand his resignation,” Durkin said.
Durkin criticized the move from the Democratic chairman of the House Special Investigating Committee into the ComEd scandal for not scheduling another hearing about the issue until after the Nov. 3 General Election which is still weeks away.
Democrats said Illinois Republican “political theater continues,” and is an effort to distract from President Donald Trump.
“Our state is working through a mismanaged pandemic and a failing economy because of the GOP and their leader Donald Trump, but they can’t seem to focus on that,” Democratic Party of Illinois Executive Director Mary Morrissey said in a statement after Durkin’s news conference. “The Speaker has been clear that he has never made a legislative decision with improper motives. Any claim to the contrary is unfounded.”
Durkin said they’re not playing politics.
“We’ve already had one person has pled guilty,” Durkin said. “We’ve had a corporation plead guilty, and there will be more to come. That’s not politics. That’s reality.”
While ComEd hasn’t pleaded guilty in court, it did admit in federal filings and in recent House testimony that it paid $1.3 million over nine years to Madigan associates to influence the speaker. A former ComEd official also pleaded guilty to bribery in the case. Madigan has not been charged with a crime and he has denied any wrongdoing.
Alisa Kaplan with the nonpartisan group Reform For Illinois said holding Madigan to account for the admissions ComEd made is above politics.
“I certainly don’t think that anyone can argue that the U.S. Attorney’s investigation into all of this is politically motivated or that what we’ve seen come out of it is the result of political motivation or that we should look at this through a purely political lens,” Kaplan said.
Kaplan said there’s clearly wrongdoing that had a direct cost to Illinois consumers.
“These are the costs of corruption and no matter what side you’re on you should be paying attention and we all should be doing something to address this,” Kaplan said.
Kaplan echoed Durkin’s call for Gov. J.B. Pritzker to put more pressure on Madigan to testify before a House committee.
Pritzker has made several statements in the media that Madigan should testify, but it’s unclear if he’s putting any pressure on the Democratic chairman or other Democrats on the investigating committee to advance subpoenas and force Madigan and others to testify.
The next hearing of the House Special Investigating Committee is Nov. 5, according to chairman Chris Welch, D-HIllside, but the hearing has yet to be posted publicly.