Call for ethics reforms in Illinois following guilty verdicts in the ComEd bribery case

(The Center Square) – The calls for ethics reforms in Illinois politics are growing louder following the conviction of four former Commonwealth Edison associates and lobbyists in a bribery scandal.

Former ComEd lobbyist John Hooker, onetime City Club president Jay Doherty, political insider Michael McClain and former ComEd CEO Anne Pramaggiore were all found guilty of all counts in a scheme to sway former House Speaker Michael Madigan to benefit ComEd.

Prosecutors alleged that the utility paid out $1.3 million in jobs, contracts and payments to associates of Madigan over eight years in exchange for favorable treatment on legislation in Springfield.

“This is embarrassing,” State Rep. Ryan Spain, R-Peoria, said at a news conference. “For too long we have allowed the poor ethical behavior of people like Mike Madigan, his associates and others to become the way we do business in the state of Illinois, and unfortunately, the Madigan way is still the way in which our government works here in Springfield.”

Spain said after the deferred prosecution agreement was revealed regarding ComEd, he was one of three Republican members on a special investigative committee to look into possible wrongdoings of Madigan and his associates, but received pushback from Democrats.

“Cover up and sweeping the facts under the rug,” Spain said. “Members of that investigative committee now serve as the Speaker of the House, and now serve as the chairperson of the Democratic Party of the state of Illinois.”

A request for comment from House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch went unanswered.

Madigan, who resigned after losing the House speakership in January 2021, has been charged with 23 counts of racketeering, bribery, and official misconduct that could go to trial next year.

House Minority Leader Tony McCombie, R-Savanna, said changes must be made in the way things are done at the Illinois Statehouse.

“Our system has allowed bad actors and political insiders to succeed at the expense of honest, hard working Illinoisans,” said McCombie. “This must not continue.”

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