Key Illinois Democrat says no to ComEd hearings

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“A legislative committee is not the appropriate place to investigate a criminal matter currently under the jurisdiction of the U.S. attorney’s office,” Williams said. “As was the precedent during prior corruption cases, the House Energy & Environment Committee will not hold hearings that could impede or interfere with an ongoing federal investigation.”

Williams, a member of the House Progressive Caucus, which occasionally has clashed with Speaker Mike Madigan, declined to elaborate when asked whether any interference would be minimal. ComEd already has confessed in its deferred-prosecution deal with federal prosecutors to improperly giving jobs, contracts and other financial inducements to benefit Madigan.

House Republicans separately made that point themselves.

“The federal criminal matters regarding ComEd came to a conclusion” when the deferred prosecution deal was announced July 17, spokeswoman Eleni Demertzis said in an email. “The legislature now owes a duty to ratepayers of ComEd to conduct public hearings, gather facts, and, if necessary, formulate legislation to ensure this never occurs again.”

Williams, in her statement, said she will introduce legislation later to “hold utilities accountable and take the politics out of setting fair energy rates.” She did not indicate when that might occur.

Meanwhile, Senate President Don Harmon seems to be leaving the door open to some sort of hearings.

“The admission of wrongdoing by ComEd is enormously troubling and will likely require a legislative response,” Harmon, D-Oak Park, said in a statement. “I’m continuing to watch and gather more information from this unfolding federal investigation."

Republicans also have been pushing for a special session on ethics reform. Harmon said a joint legislative committee was making progress before COVID-19 hit. “We look forward to finding ways to get back on track,” he said in the statement.

26-Delivered

via Crain’s Chicago Business

July 22, 2020 at 03:08PM

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