Durkin says Welch took a “dive” for Madigan


House Republican Leader Jim Durkin Thursday accused the Democratic chair of a committee investigating House Speaker Michael Madigan of taking a “dive” to protect the speaker.

Durkin made the accusation two days after Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch declared the House Special Investigating Committee II would not hold anymore meetings until after the Nov. 3 election.

Welch said he made that decision to prevent the committee’s hearings from being used “as a stage for political theater.”

The committee was formed to investigate whether Madigan behaved in a manner unbecoming a state legislator because he implicated in a bribery scheme by Commonwealth Edison. ComEd has agreed to pay a $200 million fine as part of a Deferred Prosecution Agreement with federal authorities because the utility gave jobs and contracts to Madigan associated in an attempt to curry favor with the speaker.

Madigan has not been charged and has denied any wrongdoing.

Durkin, who initiated the process to create the committee, said Welch has been stalling the proceedings from the outset. First, Durkin said, Welch incorrectly said the committee was severely limited in what it could investigate, something later refuted by the U.S. attorney’s office which is continuing its investigation.

Then Welch blocked attempts by the Republican members of the committee to subpoena witnesses who refused to appear voluntarily. Finally, Durkin said, Welch ran out of other excuses and simply suspended hearings until after the election.

“He took a dive for Mike Madigan,” Durkin said.

Durkin also called it “quite frankly insulting” that Welch said the Republicans were using the hearings for political gain.

“The only thing that is political is Representative Welch’s covering up of the corruption in his own party before the election,” Durkin said.

Welch could not be reached for comment.

At this point, the next scheduled hearing is Nov. 5. There hasn’t been any indication yet if subpoenas will be issued to potential witnesses who have declined to appear, including Madigan.

Republicans have used Madigan as a campaign issue against Democratic candidates for years. Durkin said this year is different because the federal investigation has revealed details of how Madigan operates.

So far, one Democrat has said she will challenge Madigan to the speaker position next year. Rep. Stephanie Kifowit, D-Oswego, said she thinks others could also decide to challenge Madigan.

Durkin would not say if he would urge Republicans to support a Democratic alternative to Madigan.

“I’m interested in winning seats in November,” Durkin said. “I’m not going to speak about what might happen in January.”

Democrats currently hold a 74-44 advantage in seats over the Republicans.

Contact Doug Finke: doug.finke@sj-r.com, 788-1527, twitter.com/dougfinkesjr

Region: Northern,Feeds,News,Region: Galesburg,City: Galesburg

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October 8, 2020 at 01:09PM

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