After continually trying to “slow-walk” the work of the Special Investigating Committee (SIC) for the last two months, on Tuesday Committee Chair Chris Welch (D-Hillside) announced the committee would not meet again until after the November 3 election. In response to Welch’s unilateral decision to halt the committee’s work for a full month, the three Republicans who serve on the SIC held a press conference on Tuesday to denounce Welch’s effort to derail the committee.
Committee member Grant Wehrli said that by continuing to shield the Speaker, Chairman Welch is “betraying the governor,” who encouraged Madigan to step forward and testify. “Even Governor JB Pritzker has said Mike Madigan should testify before this committee,” said Wehrli. “Since it’s clear that Chairman Welch has no intention of forcing Speaker Madigan to testify, I think it’s time for Governor Pritzker to take matters into his own hands just demand Madigan’s resignation.”
The SIC was created on August 31, and according to Wehrli the chair has done nothing but stonewall since day one. “So far we have had one short meeting where Republicans had to fight to get primary documents placed into the record, and a second meeting where we heard from one witness and were denied an opportunity to issue subpoenas to Mike Madigan and others named in the Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA),” said Wehrli. “Chairman Welch has had subpoenas for Mike Madigan and others named in the DPA in his hands for a full week now, and today, without issuing any subpoenas, he abruptly announced that our work is suspended until November 5, two days after the election. I used to think Chris Welch was a man of integrity. Today he showed me that he is willing to cast his integrity aside so he can act as a human shield to protect his leader and mentor, Mike Madigan.”
Whereas the committee’s charge is specific, in that it deals only with Speaker Mike Madigan and whether or not the Speaker engaged in conduct that is unbecoming of a lawmaker and which constituted a breach in the public trust, Welch unilaterally used a sneaky legal maneuver on Tuesday to further delay the committee’s work and bury the committee in paperwork. He sent a letter to ComEd requesting ten years’ worth of communications between ComEd or Exelon and a long list of individuals; all but one outside the scope of the SIC’s charge. His request included hundreds of people and could take months for ComEd to respond.
“Anyone with any remaining doubt about Chairman Welch’s true motives should know now that he will do whatever it takes to protect Mike Madigan from having to appear before this committee,” said Wehrli. “His roadblocks, delays, and stonewalling tactics tell us all where his priorities lie, and they’re not with the 12.8 million Illinoisans who deserve a fair, expedient, unbiased investigatory process.”
Wehrli continued, “Michael J. Madigan is referenced as ‘Public Official A’ 72 times in the DPA and another 30 or so times in the plea agreement entered into last week by former ComEd Executive VP of Legislative Affairs Fidel Marquez, who pled guilty to bribery and conspiracy charges federal court for his role in the scheme. We need to continue with our important work, and Chairman Welch needs to stop obstructing our process. I call on Representatives Natalie Manley and Elizabeth Hernandez, the other two Democrats on the SIC, to condemn Chairman Welch’s underhanded tactics and regain control of this committee.”