Less than 24 hours after a new federal indictment was handed down against four members of IL Speaker of the House Mike Madigan’s inner circle, House Republicans are urging Special Investigating Committee (SIC) Chair Chris Welch (D-Hillside) to stop stalling, and reconvene the bipartisan committee immediately. The SIC is charged with investigating the conduct of Michael J. Madigan and determining whether the long-time Speaker engaged in conduct unbecoming of a legislator which constituted a breach of the public trust. The committee has met only twice since it was formed in late August, and hasn’t met since September 29. A November 5 meeting was canceled, and no future meeting dates have been set.
SIC member Grant Wehrli (R-Naperville) joined House Republican Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) and SIC members Tom Demmer (R-Dixon) and Deanne Mazzochi (R-Elmhurst) in a press conference Thursday to urge the scheduling of the next SIC meeting. “The Special Investigating Committee was formed in accordance with Mike Madigan’s own House Rules, and Committee Chair Chris Welch and Democrat SIC members Natalie Manley and Elizabeth Hernandez have done nothing but obstruct the panel’s work,” said Wehrli. “We have a duty to explore the petition’s charge and to protect the integrity of the House of Representatives and the General Assembly. Unfortunately, the three Madigan apologists serving on the committee appear determined to protect their leader at all costs.”
The first meeting of the SIC was of an organizational nature, and the second meeting included testimony from just one voluntary witness. Attempts by Republican SIC members to issue subpoenas to Mike Madigan and others with intimate knowledge of the ComEd bribery scheme were blocked by Welch at both meetings. Since then, repeated calls by Republicans serving on the panel to reconvene have been ignored.
“The people of Illinois deserve a thorough, fair and complete investigation into this petition, and the three Democrats on the SIC have clearly decided that loyalty to Mike Madigan is more important than doing what’s right,” added Wehrli. “No individual, not even the Speaker of the House and Chair of the Illinois Democratic Party, is immune to this important layer of accountability. This process allows us to investigate and discipline one of our own when allegations of wrong-doing and ethical misconduct are made, and especially in light of this new indictment, we must proceed.”
In addition to asking that the work of the SIC resume without further delay, Republicans noted that weary House Democrats are slowly removing their support of Madigan as Speaker of the House for the upcoming 102nd General Assembly. “These new charges allege bribery conspiracy, bribery, and willfully falsifying ComEd books and records. When combined with previous indictments tied to the same scandal, we now have heard from 15 House Democrats who claim they will not support Michael J. Madigan as Speaker of the House for the 102nd General Assembly,” Wehrli said. “With 73 Democrats set to be sworn into office, that leaves 58 Democrat Representatives-elect who have not publicly stated its time for a change in their leadership. We’re still hearing nothing but crickets from the majority of the House Democratic Caucus.”
The 102nd General Assembly is scheduled to be sworn in on January 11, 2021, and immediately after taking the oath of office Representatives will elect a Speaker of the House.