Legislative News from Rep. Grant Wehrli

SIC Democrats Block Issuance of Subpoenas to Madigan, Others Embroiled in ComEd Scandal

The Chairman of the Special Investigating Committee (SIC) into the conduct of Mike Madigan used his position this week to block the issuance of subpoenas to Mike Madigan and several others with intimate knowledge of the expansive ComEd bribery scheme. The illegal activity is described in detail in a Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA) between Commonwealth Edison and the US Attorney’s Office of Northern Illinois.

The bipartisan panel heard more than three hours of testimony on Tuesday from ComEd and Exelon’s Chief Compliance Officer David Glockner (a new hire; he was not working for ComEd/Excelon while the illegal activities were taking place). Glocker is a former federal prosecutor and federal securities regulator, so his testimony was quite compelling. He was led through the DPA, and one by one, he reiterated each statement of fact as being true. He also admitted that the entire DPA is built around ComEd’s admission that the energy giant provided payments, jobs and a seat on the ComEd Board to friends and allies of Mike Madigan in an effort to gain favor with the Speaker.

In addition to affirming the truthfulness of the statements of fact outlined in the DPA, we learned a few new elements of the scheme. First, in addition to former Chicago Alderman Michael Zalewski Sr., we now know that 13th Ward Alderman Frank Olivo and Madigan political operative Raymond Nice are also embroiled in the federal probe. Second, we also learned that there are additional emails and other communications that show Madigan’s office was involved with recommending people for jobs. Lastly, we learned that in addition to ComEd, other no-work contracts to allies of Mike Madigan were funneled through four lobbying firms, including those owned by Madigan’s closest ally Michael McClain, friend Victor Reyes, former Democrat staffer Shaw Decremer, ad ex-Democrat State Rep. John Bradley.

While ComEd came forward voluntarily to provide testimony, Mike Madigan and other key individuals named in the DPA declined to voluntarily appear before the SIC. At the end of the meeting, my Republican colleague State Rep. Deanne Mazzochi attempted to gain committee approval to issue subpoenas to Speaker Madigan, Mike McClain, John Hooker, Jay Doherty, and ex-CEO Anne Pramaggiore. Even though the committee has subpoena powers, Chair Chris Welch said Mazzochi’s motion was out of order, and refused to allow a vote on the issuance of subpoenas.

Welch’s behavior should tell Illinoisan’s all they need to know about the seriousness with which he and his Democrat colleagues take the SIC’s charge. They are shielding their leader, Mike Madigan, from having to appear, and their goal is prevent further incriminating evidence from being presented. The news media saw the display for what it was, and there was a lot of coverage about the Tuesday meeting. For example, the Sun Times had this to say in a September 30 editorial:

“A trio of Illinois House Democrats dug in their heels, buried their heads firmly in the sand and did their best Tuesday to ignore a litany of damning evidence against House Speaker Michael Madigan. This was not a surprise. The three were named to an Illinois House Special Investigative Committee looking into Madigan’s dealings with Commonwealth Edison specifically for purposes of defending him. The real question is how long the rest of their Democratic colleagues will continue with the charade.”

To read other coverage of what is clearly now a “sham” committee, use the links below;

Chicago Tribune
Capitol News Illinois
WBEZ
Springfield Journal-Register
Springfield ABC News Channel 20
Center Square News

The people of Illinois certainly deserve a better process than what is taking place so far. The committee will meet again, and will gather testimony from former ComEd Executive VP of legislative affairs Fidel Marquez, who pled guilty to bribery and conspiracy charges Tuesday in federal court for his role in the scheme. At that meeting, I suspect we will try again to issue subpoenas to others named in the DPA, including Mike Madigan.

Republicans on SIC Renew Call for Use of Subpoenas in Special Investigation into Mike Madigan

On Thursday, I joined Deputy Minority Leader Tom Demmer and State Representative Deanne Mazzochi for a press conference where we renewed our call for the use of subpoenas if the Speaker and others embroiled in the ComEd scheme do not voluntarily come forward to testify.

This bipartisan panel is charged with determining if the Speaker of the House engaged in conduct unbecoming of a lawmaker which constituted a breach of the public trust. We believe Chairman Welch acted outside his statutory authority when he blocked our effort to issue subpoenas. The Illinois Constitution, in Article IV, Section 7, Sub-section C, is clear on this matter, and so is Illinois Compiled Statutes in 25/ILCS 5/4. Both articles of law grant subpoena power not just to the chair of a committee, but also to any member of a committee.

The Illinois Constitution states: “Either house or any committee thereof as provided by law may compel by subpoena the attendance and testimony of witnesses and the production of books, records and papers.”

Illinois law further states: “The presiding officer of each house, and the chairman, or any member of any committee appointed by either house, or of a joint committee appointed by the two houses of the General Assembly, may administer oaths and affirmations to witnesses called before such house or committee for the purpose of giving evidence touching any matter or thing which may be under the consideration or investigation of such house or committee.”

Speaker Madigan and others named in the Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA) between Commonwealth Edison and the US Attorney of Northern Illinois have relevant and useful information that is vital to the SIC’s ability to do it’s job properly. Only by questioning these witnesses will we be able to build out a broader picture of what exactly transpired with regard to ComEd’s admission that they engaged in a bribery scheme to gain favor with Mike Madigan. It’s through getting people to testify under oath that we obtain a full and complete record.

Our investigating committee has a specific and important charge, and our process is separate from the ongoing federal investigation into political corruption in Illinois. Our committee’s work is about protecting the integrity of the Illinois House of Representatives, and about holding our colleagues accountable for their actions. Speaker Madigan needs to come forward and testify.

Click here to view the full press conference.

Click here to view my comments.

State Police Launch CheckPoint Sexual Assault Evidence Tracking System

I’m pleased to announce that the Illinois State Police have launched a new statewide sexual assault tracking system that will bring victims of rape some valuable peace of mind. The “CheckPoint” system provides survivors of sexual assault with the ability to monitor the status of their case evidence throughout the process, from collection at the hospital, through law enforcement pick-up and submission to the forensic lab, and ultimately to the State’s Attorney’s office where final results are received. To ensure privacy, the system will use unique case numbers and passwords to limit access to survivors and law enforcement.

The launching of this system is the culmination of years of work from many stakeholders and several pieces of legislation I was proud to co-sponsor and support. Legislation from 2017 created the Sexual Assault Evidence Tracking and Reporting Commission, and the panel studied and presented recommendations for the best way to implement an electronic evidence tracking system. The group’s recommendations were then brought forward in legislation that was approved in 2019.

Implementation of this tracking system is a great step toward addressing issues with rape kits. There is still room for improvement, specifically with addressing the backlog of rape kits, but the new online tracking system provides a new layer of transparency and accountability for those seeking justice after being victimized.

Wehrli Recognizes Naperville North Senior for Winning 2020 NASA/Texas Instruments National Codes Contest

Our schools in the 41st District really are amazing. I recently learned that Naperville North Senior Alayna Nguyen was part of a team that was named “Grand Champions” of the 2020 NASA/Texas Instruments National Codes Contest. For the competition, middle and high school students were asked to propose ways to automate or optimize a process or product for living in and working at the International Space Station, and required students to use coding and Texas Instruments technology to design and build a model of their proposed solution. Alayna partnered with high school students from New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania to create the competition’s first-ever multi-state team, and together they created a free-flying robot that uses ultraviolet light for sterilizing the space station so astronauts could spend their time focusing on experiments.

To recognize Alayna for her accomplishment, I filed HR 915 in the House of Representatives. The honorary resolution congratulates Alayna and her teammates for their accomplishment at the competition. The resolution will be voted on during the November Veto Session of the General Assembly, and once it is approved I will deliver an official copy of the signed and approved resolution to her family. Congratulations to you, Alayna!

Drivers’ License Deadlines Further Extended; No Extension for Vehicle License Plates

Due to challenges Illinois drivers are having with renewing expired driver’s licenses, the Secretary of State has announced a further extension to the renewal deadline. Expired driver’s licenses and non-driver personal ID cards will now remain valid  until February 1, 2021.

The small decal stickers that Illinois drivers attach to their motor vehicle license plates to show that the car has been licensed are separate from drivers’ licenses. These car license plates and decal stickers were only extended until November 1, 2020. Since most of these transaction are already done online or by mail, COVID-19 is not changing the way these stickers are purchased and delivered.

Secretary of State and IL Treasurer Announce Extended Waiver of E-Check Payment Processor Fee

The Illinois Secretary of State and IL Treasurer have partnered with National Cash Register (NCR) to remove the e-check payment processing fee through the remainder of 2020. Since the payment processor fees were first waived on May 5, the number of transactions conducted online and paid with e-checks have nearly tripled compared to the same period in 2019. The e-check payment processor fee will be waived for the following online services:

  • renewing a vehicle registration
  • obtaining a duplicate driver’s license or ID card
  • renewing a driver’s license with the Safe Driver Renewal program. 

Paying with an e-check is simple. Customers visit www.cyberdriveillinois.com to begin the transaction. Then you’ll be automatically connected to NCR where they provide their routing number and bank account number on the secure payment page. After the transaction is completed and the e-check is verified, the Secretary of State’s office will begin the process of mailing the vehicle registration sticker or DL/ID card.