Madigan probe delayed until after election; GOP objects

State News

Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch, D-Hillside, talks to reporters on the House floor, Monday, May 29, 2017, in Springfield, Ill. Welch, chairman of the Special Investigating Committee probing allegations of misconduct by Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan, has delayed further hearings until after the Nov. 3, 2020, election. Madigan is implicated in a decade-long bribery scheme to which utility giant ComEd has admitted in a deferred prosecution agreement with the Justice Department. Madigan has not been charged with a crime and denies wrongdoing. (AP Photo/John O’Connor)

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — The Democratic chairman of an Illinois House committee investigating alleged misconduct by Speaker Michael Madigan has postponed further hearings until after the election.

Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch of Hillside accused Republicans on the committee of “wearing two hats” — one as impartial investigators into Madigan’s culpability in a decade-long bribery scheme and another as candidates for the House in tough reelection races to be decided Nov. 3.

The House Republican leader accused Welch of stonewalling.

“The Republican members of this committee are also engaged in competitive political campaigns in which they have chosen to campaign almost exclusively against the speaker,” Welch said in a statement. “The committee will meet again in person on Nov. 5 in Springfield — without the backdrop of a political campaign.”

Utility giant ComEd admitted in a deferred prosecution agreement signed with the U.S. attorney for the northern district of Illinois in July that its top administrators offered no-work lobbyist jobs and sub-contracts to allies of Madigan in exchange for favorable legislation. Madigan is identified in the document only as House speaker. He has not been charged with a crime and denies wrongdoing.

House rules allowed Republicans to form the special investigating committee Welch chairs, but most witnesses they asked to testify have refused. Welch has not responded to requests from GOP members Tom Demmer of Dixon, Deanne Mazzochi of Elmhurst, and Grant Wehrli of Naperville to issue subpoenas. Each faces Democratic opposition in the election. Mazzochi and Wehrli are scrambling against tough competition in once-solidly Republican DuPage County.

House GOP Leader Jim Durkin of Western Springs called Welch’s decision “a disgrace and a slap in the face to the governor, the General Assembly and the citizens of Illinois.”

“The U.S. Attorney has given the SIC (special investigating committee) authority to investigate, and Gov. (J.B.) Pritzker has on numerous occasions urged the speaker to testify on his role with ComEd’s nine-year bribery scheme,” Durkin said “Yet Rep. Welch refuses to do anything except hide the truth about the corruption of Speaker Madigan and the Democratic Party of Illinois.”

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