ILLINOIS — U.S. Attorney John Lausch Jr. has cleared Illinois lawmakers to conduct interviews of key players in an admitted patronage scheme by ComEd to curry favor with House Speaker Michael Madigan, including questioning the speaker himself.
In a formal reply to the two heads of the Illinois House Special Investigation Committee, Lausch said his office doesn’t have an objection to the committee seeking testimony from witnesses or the production of documents in its independent investigation.
In a list provided to Lausch by state Rep. Tom Demmer, R-Dixon, Republicans indicated they plan to call Madigan, his long-time ally and former ComEd lobbyist Michael McLain, as well as a host of other current and former ComEd employees.
“The U.S. Attorney’s Office has given the Special Investigating Committee the green light to pursue all avenues of the investigation, including testimony and documents, that were articulated in the petition,” said House Minority Leader Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs. “We are grateful that US Attorney John Lausch told the Committee that his office recognizes the SIC’s ‘separate and independent obligation to conduct its inquiry.’ We look forward to the Committee convening promptly to do this important work.”
Lausch cautioned the lawmakers to stay away from asking witnesses about statements or documents they’ve been asked to provide the grand jury in the course of the ongoing federal investigation. Grand jury proceedings are generally considered private and are not open to the public.
Lausch stressed lawmakers not disclose any proposed grant of immunity from investigators, saying it could significantly interfere with the federal corruption probe.
U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois John Lausch’s office reached a deferred prosecution agreement with ComEd, one the state’s largest utilities, in July. That case, and another involving a former ComEd executive, implicated Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan.
Earlier this month, prosecutors charged former ComEd vice president Fidel Marquez with bribery conspiracy in what prosecutors say was a nearly 10-year scheme to curry favor with Madigan.
The criminal complaint filed in the Northern District of Illinois against Fidel Marquez alleges that, for nearly a decade, he conspired “with others known and unknown” to solicit and demand things of value like jobs, contracts and money, for the benefit of “Public Official A.”
Marquez was the vice president of governmental and external affairs for ComEd from 2012 to September 2019.
The charges don’t name “Public Official A,” but identify the official as the Speaker of the House of Representatives. Madigan, D-Chicago, has held that position for all but two years since 1983.
“Public Official A was able to exercise control over what measures were called for a vote in the House of Representatives,” according to the charging documents. “Public Official A also exercises substantial influence and control over fellow lawmakers concerning legislation, including legislation affecting ComEd.”
In October 2019, then Exelon Utilities CEO Anne Pramaggiore abruptly resigned amid questions about the company’s lobbying activity and connection to former state Sen. Martin Sandoval, who later pleaded guilty to accepting bribes to protect a red-light camera company. ComEd is a subsidiary of Exelon.
Madigan has denied any wrongdoing and has not been charged with a crime.
The Center Square – Cole Lauterbach