Gov. JB Pritzker expressed support for the chair of the Illinois Commerce Commission Monday despite her being related to someone allegedly involved in the bribery scheme with Commonwealth Edison.
Pritzker said there is no indication that ICC chair Carrie Zalewski had any involvement with the ComEd scheme revealed by federal prosecutors Friday that has been tied to House Speaker Michael Madigan.
According to reports, Zalewski’s father-in-law was mentioned in court documents as receiving a low-level job from ComEd as the request of people in Madigan’s inner circle. The ICC is responsible for overseeing public utilities in the state, including ComEd.
"Let me just say she has served as a public servant for the state of Illinois for many years now," Pritzker said. "There has not been any allegations against her. I think it would be unfair to hold against her something that has to do with someone else. So far, no one has come forward and said anything other than that she is doing a good job as a public servant."
Zalewski was appointed to a five-year term at the ICC in March. She previously served as a regulator with the Illinois Pollution Control Board as well as a number of other state agencies. She is married to Rep. Michael Zalewski, D-Riverside.
ComEd was charged with one count of bribery and agreed to pay a $200 million fine for its actions in trying to "influence and reward" a public official identified as the Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives. It did that, prosecutors said, by hiring a number of Madigan associates for jobs and as subcontractors, even though in some cases they did little or no work for the utility. ComEd said that between 2011 and 2019, legislation passed by the General Assembly benefitted the company to the tune of more than $150 million.
The ICC has scheduled a hearing July 29 at which it expects to question Commonwealth Edison executives about ethics reforms.
Last week, Pritzker said Madigan should resign if the allegations laid out by prosecutors are true. He said Monday there are still too many unanswered questions to demand that Madigan should resign as either Speaker or chair of the Democratic Party of Illinois immediately.
"We need answers. We have not gotten all the answers," Pritzker said. "This information that was provided by the U.S. Attorney is only about the corporation that was convicted in that document. That corporation has a lot to answer for."
"The Speaker has a lot to answer for," Pritzker said. "There’s an awful lot of information he’s going to need to provide and I would expect him to do so. The people of our state deserve to know all the fact, they deserve to have people come forth and tell everything that they know. There are an awful lot of questions the Speaker still needs to answer."
Pritzker singled out Springfield Mayor Jim Langfelder as one of the "local leaders taking action to keep their communities safe. Langfelder issued an executive order Friday meant to beef up enforcement of distancing guidelines and indoor seating limits on bars and restaurants. He did it after Sangamon County reported double digit daily increases of new COVID-19 cases after restrictions on indoor drinking and dining were eased.
"The state stands behind these municipalities in their efforts," Pritzker said. "Our city and county leaders, with case numbers and hospitalizations rising and localized information about outbreaks readily available, can and should do what they know is right to protect their residents."
The state has also seen an increase in new daily cases since the state entered Phase 4 of reopening the economy at the end of June. So far, Pritzker has not announced any new state restrictions.
However, on Monday, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced new restrictions for the city in response to an increase in coronavirus cases.
Contact Doug Finke: firstname.lastname@example.org, 788-1527, twitter.com/dougfinkesjr
via The State Journal-Register
July 20, 2020 at 01:16PM