ComEd verdicts jolt Illinois political world — sparking strong reactions from Republicans (and a few Democrats)

‘This guilty on all charges verdict has proven what Republicans have already known. We need real ethics reform,’ Illinois House Republican Leader Tony McCombie said at a news conference in Springfield after the verdict.

SHARE ComEd verdicts jolt Illinois political world — sparking strong reactions from Republicans (and a few Democrats)
The ComEd Four (left to right): Former ComEd lobbyist John Hooker; former City Club President Jay Doherty; former ComEd CEO Anne Pramaggiore; Michael McClain, longtime confidant to former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan. 

The ComEd Four (left to right): Former ComEd lobbyist John Hooker; former City Club President Jay Doherty; former ComEd CEO Anne Pramaggiore; Michael McClain, longtime confidant to former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan.

Pat Nabong; Ashlee Rezin; Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere/Sun-Times-file

“The system of doing business in Springfield is broken.”

“No one is above the law.”

“A look at the rampant corruption that plagues our state government.”

Those are just some of the words echoing across Illinois’ political landscape on Tuesday after the guilty verdicts were read in the Commonwealth Edison bribery trial.

A federal jury rendered a clear verdict, convicting the ComEd Four on all counts.

And the state’s elected officials quickly followed suit, offering their own verdicts on what the trial says about Illinois and what it could mean for the future.

“When everyday citizens have the opportunity to see how business in Springfield gets done, people go to prison,” said state Rep. Blaine Wilhour (R-Beecher City). “Justice is being served with this guilty verdict, but the question needs to be asked, what will change in Springfield as a result of these convictions?

“If recent history is any indication, the answer is nothing.”

Here is a sampling of the reactions offered by a slew of elected officials to the jury’s decision.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s office:

“Since taking office, Gov. Pritzker has advanced the case of ethics reform in key areas, especially in bringing more transparency to the process and tightening requirements for lobbyists. The Governor believes we must restore the public’s trust in government and today’s verdicts are proof that no one is above the law,” governor’s office spokeswoman Jordan Abudayyeh said in a statement.

House Republican Leader Tony McCombie:

“We have had an opportunity to tackle ethics in our statehouse for years. This trial has been a costly seven week reminder of just what is wrong in state government. This guilty verdict has proven that the system of doing business in Springfield is broken. This should not have been the first step to rooting out corruption in Illinois, but after today, it is clear there must be a sense of urgency in bringing back the people’s trust in state government.”

“This guilty on all charges verdict has proven what Republicans have already known. We need real ethics reform. Our system has allowed bad actors and political insiders to succeed at the expense of honest, hard-working Illinoisans. This must not continue. ... We hope the news today marks a distinct change in the ongoing chapters of corruption in Illinois politics,” McCombie said during a news conference following the verdict.

Republican state Rep. Tony McCombie of Savanna (left): Republican state Sen. John Curran of Downers Grove (right).

Republican state Rep. Tony McCombie of Savanna (left): Republican state Sen. John Curran of Downers Grove (right).

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Senate Republican Leader John Curran (R-Downers Grove):

“Today’s verdicts show that no one is above the law, and I hope it will be a catalyst for changing how business is done in Illinois government. We need real reforms that shine a light on the process and confront the culture of corruption that has gone unchecked for decades. It’s time to restore the public’s trust in their state government.”

Illinois Senate President Don Harmon, (D-Oak Park):

“The behavior brought to light and put on display at this trial was shockingly gluttonous and unhealthy to democracy. We’ve taken concrete steps to discourage bad behavior. But most importantly, I believe we have people committed to behaving better.”

Illinois Senate President Don Harmon

Illinois Senate President Don Harmon

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times file

State Rep. Blaine Wilhour (R-Beecher City):

“When everyday citizens have the opportunity to see how business in Springfield gets done, people go to prison.

“Justice is being served with this guilty verdict, but the question needs to be asked, what will change in Springfield as a result of these convictions? If recent history is any indication, the answer is nothing. The influence peddling is as bad as it ever has been. Self-dealing, influence peddling, and backroom cronyism are the norm, not the exception, in Illinois.

“Our state was held hostage to special interests before the ComEd Four went to trial, and we are still being held hostage. When Former Speaker Michael Madigan goes to jail, we will know things are really serious.

“If we are going to move forward with credibility in this state, we need to enact the toughest anti-corruption laws in the nation to ensure these corrupt scumbags never have power over the citizens of Illinois again.”

Former Illinois House Republican Leader Jim Durkin:

“This is the collapse of the house of Madigan and everyone who drank from his trough over the years. This is a clear shot across the bow against corruption. This is a clear view of what has transpired under the Capitol Dome for years.”

“At least a federal jury has finally exposed Michael Madigan and his cronies for who they are.”

Then House Republican Leader Jim Durkin in his office in The Loop in November.

Then House Republican Leader Jim Durkin in his office in The Loop in November.

Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere/Sun-Times file

State Rep. Tim Ozinga (R-Mokena):

“This trial gave the public a look at the rampant corruption that plagues our state government, yet nothing in Springfield has changed to prevent this unethical behavior in the future,” Ozinga said in a statement. “Numerous bills have been introduced to fix the problems that our state is facing, yet a majority of them never even made it to a vote on the House floor.

“It’s time for the politicians to begin holding themselves accountable for the years of corrupt and unethical behavior. Our state has many problems, but we will never be able to fix them until we pass serious and comprehensive ethical reform.”

State Rep. Jed Davis (R-Yorkville):

“The ComEd Trial is just a small portion of the deep-rooted corruption in our state’s Democratic Party,” said Rep. Davis. “For years, the taxpayers of Illinois have seen indictment after indictment, with virtually zero ethical reform passed in the General Assembly.

“Enough is enough. It’s clear that Illinois Democrats are unable to police themselves. Now is the time for us to get serious about fixing corruption by working to pass a series of much-needed bills to end the shameful, unethical policies of the Madigan era.”

State Rep. Tom Weber (R-Lake Villa):

“Today’s verdict in the ‘ComEd Four’ trial is a small victory for the people of Illinois, but it can’t stop here,” said Weber. “Hardly anything has changed to Illinois’ weak ethics laws since Mike Madigan left office, and we must act to stop this self-serving culture. This trial exposed the mobster mentality of self-dealing, pay-to-play politics, and it will happen again unless Democrats join us in passing the strict laws we need to hold politicians and lobbyists accountable to the people.”

State Rep. Ryan Spain (R-Peoria):

“Today is a sad day for Illinois, and while I’m certainly glad that justice was served, today should be a reminder on the sad state of our politics in Illinois, a state that has persisted for far too long under the leadership of Mike Madigan and unfortunately continues forward today,” Spain said during a news conference Tuesday afternoon. “This is embarrassing. 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 ... It has to stop now.”

State Rep. Ryan Spain, R-Peoria, during a Zoom news conference in 2020

State Rep. Ryan Spain, R-Peoria, during a Zoom news conference in 2020

Screen image from BlueRoomStream.

State Rep. Patrick Windhorst (R-Metropolis):

“Today’s news of guilty verdicts in the case of four former utility giant Commonwealth Edison officials should serve as a wake-up call to all Illinoisans, especially Illinois Democrats ... The time for delay on ethics reform is over. The time to clean up our state government is now. The evidence has shown that the reign of Mike Madigan was an era of no-show jobs, quid-pro-quos, lobbying contracts in exchange for legislative action and corrupt pay-to-play culture,” Windhorst said during a Tuesday news conference. “The reign of Mike Madigan has left an indelible stain of corruption on this building.”

Chicago Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez (25th):

“The jury delivered a verdict to hold four people accountable who played a role in favoring a wealthy and politically connected corporation’s interest over the public interest,” said Sigcho-Lopez, who first ran for office after it came to light that then-25th Ward Ald. Danny Solis was involved in the FBI probe of Madigan.

“While these individuals will pay a price for their role in defrauding the people of Illinois to favor ComEd, it is Illinois residents who continue to be burdened with the lion’s share of the harmful consequences of this criminal behavior. Illinois elected officials, bureaucrats, journalists, and residents must all work together to right these wrongs.”

Contributing: Tina Sfondeles, Michael Loria, Catherine Odom, David Struett

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