Archive for the ‘ComEd Four’ Category


Former ComEd CEO Anne Pramaggiore exits the Dirksen U.S. Courthouse on May 2, 2023 in Chicago after being found guilty on all counts in the “ComEd Four” bribery trial. (Terrence Antonio James / Chicago Tribune)

By Ray Long and Jason Meisner Chicago Tribune

The Commonwealth Edison scandal engulfing indicted former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan is now costing its parent company, Exelon Corp., $46.2 million in penalties under a new settlement with the federal Securities and Exchange Commission.

The SEC charged Exelon and ComEd with fraud in the alleged scheme to influence and reward Madigan as several lucrative pieces of utility legislation passed the Democratic-dominated General Assembly from 2011 to 2019. Exelon agreed to pay the penalty, the SEC said.

Former ComEd CEO Anne Pramaggiore also faces new SEC bribery-related charges, but her case will be litigated, according to the commission. Pramaggiore already was convicted in the high-profile ComEd Four corruption case in federal court this year and awaits sentencing in January.

The new SEC penalties follow ComEd’s July 2020 deferred prosecution agreement with the U.S. attorney’s office to pay a $200 million fine and cooperate with prosecutors in exchange for dropping a bribery count against the electric utility. The bribery count was dropped earlier this year.

The Illinois Commerce Commission also previously approved a roughly $38 million refund for ComEd customers — or about, on average, a little less than $5 per residential customer — to address the question of whether customer costs were tied to the inappropriate conduct. The refund was derided by one utility watchdog as “chump change.”

Read more here.

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A group of businesses filed a complaint with state regulators last week alleging that Chicago electric company Commonwealth Edison improperly raised customer bills this summer.

The complaint – centered on a portion of the 2021 Climate and Equitable Jobs Act that allows utilities to recoup carbon mitigation investments – alleges the utility failed to follow the proper regulatory channels laid out in Gov. JB Pritzker’s marquee climate policy.

The complaint was filed by the Chemical Industry Council of Illinois, a trade group that lobbies for chemical businesses, alleging the change in billing will cost its roughly 100 member companies about $100 million combined between June 2023 and May 2024. Eight other groups are also listed as complainants, including Loyola Academy, a suburban Catholic school.

Read the ICC complaint

It’s the latest salvo in the industrial sector’s opposition to elements of CEJA. Other major business groups have long warned that CEJA could result in increased energy costs, especially to large industrial customers, which are among the biggest users of electricity.

The Illinois Commerce Commission will consider the complaint, which could set a precedent allowing the oversight agency to have tighter control over how fees are calculated. All five of the commission’s members were appointed by Pritzker.

The fee at the center of the complaint is the “Carbon-Free Resource Adjustment,” or CFRA. The complaint alleges the fee was calculated without proper oversight and asks the ICC to order ComEd to stop using CFRA to recover costs and reimburse the complainants for any fees already collected this year. ComEd began collecting money from customers using CFRA in June.

Read more here.

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First lady Jill Biden

An Illinois grassroots nonprofit organization is sounding off on the Biden administration’s economic policies.

First Lady Jill Biden paid a visit to Chicago Wednesday to talk to unions and about “Bidenomics,” a political slogan coined for President Joe Biden’s economic agenda.

“President Biden and I understand the middle class because we are from the middle class,” she said during an appearance at the McCormick Center.

The president and first lady have been crisscrossing the country trying to sell the policies to Americans.

Jason Hefley, Illinois State director for Americans for Prosperity, said with the Biden administration spending more and Illinoisans earning less, the past two years of this administration have been detrimental for Illinois families.

“While they’re patting themselves on the back, they really need to be talking to the hard-working families of Illinois and the country about the real pressures they are facing at the gas station, at the grocery store and buying a home,” said Hefley.

Many apparently are not sold when it comes to the state of the economy or Biden’s performance.

The Center Square Voters’ Voice Poll, conducted in conjunction with Noble Predictive Insights, found that 49% of voters say Biden is not a strong leader compared to 36% who say the opposite. The survey also found that 49% say Biden does not have the judgment to serve effectively, while 40% say he does. The survey also found that a solid majority of 66% of those surveyed say the country is headed in the wrong direction and slightly over half, 54%, disapprove of the job Biden is doing.

In a recent poll by the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, just 36% of Americans approve of the president’s handling of the economy.

Read more here.

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Stantis Flag Ideas

Chicago Tribune editorial cartoonist Scott Stantis’ ideas for a new Illinois flag design. (Scott Stantis/For the Chicago Tribune)

The state is poised to consider designing a new state flag now that the governor has signed legislation to create the Illinois Flag Commission.

With inspiration from a resident, state Sen. Doris Turner, D-Springfield, sponsored Senate Bill 1818, which drew bipartisan support. Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed the bill this month, and now 21 members are being selected to decide whether to update a simple flag from 1915. Once approved, the public will get to share its vision for a new state flag.

“It’s an opportunity for people to learn more about Illinois and put our best foot forward,” Turner told The Center Square.

As flag fever hits several states in the U.S., Turner said that Utah had a huge response to its flag design initiative with about 7,000 proposals and more than 44,000 public comments.

“That just shows you the type of excitement that an exercise like this can really generate,” she said.

Turner predicts a similar response in Illinois with the opportunity for all ages to reflect on the essence of the state. Today’s flag saw a change in 1970 when the name Illinois was added, but the rest reflects the state seal with an eagle grasping a banner.

“The way I look at it is that the state seal belongs to the state. The flag belongs to the people,” she said.

Rather than share her own views on a design, Turner prefers to see what residents are thinking.

“I’m looking at this with a very, very, very open mind, and I’m excited to see what comes through,” she said.

Read more here.

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Nuclear Power Veto

Illinois’ moratorium on new nuclear power plant construction will stay in place for now after Gov. J.B. Pritzker vetoed a bill that would have lifted the ban.

The legislation would have invalidated a 1987 law that prohibited new nuclear power facilities from being built until a permanent waste storage option was made available.

“The bill is vetoed because the vague definitions in the bill, including the overly broad definition of advanced reactors, will open the door to the proliferation of large-scale nuclear reactors that are so costly to build that they will cause exorbitant ratepayer-funded bailouts,” Pritzker’s office said in a statement.

The bill specifically called for allowing the development of so-called advanced nuclear reactors such as the Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, or SMRs, that industry advocates have proposed to help meet the state’s emissions-free energy goal.

David Kraft, director of the Nuclear Energy Information Service, said the state doesn’t need any more nuclear reactors.

“There would be competition now only for market share for the energy, but there would be severe competition to get that energy on an already overcrowded transmission grid,” Kraft said.

State Sen. Sue Rezin, R-Morris, said the governor is putting his own partisan political ambitions over what is in the best interest of the people of Illinois.

“The governor’s decision to veto Senate Bill 76 is a short-sighted mistake that will hurt our state’s future energy portfolio,” Rezin told The Center Square.

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Motions continue back and forth between former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan’s attorneys and federal prosecutors alleging Madigan ran a criminal enterprise from through the Illinois Statehouse.

In the summer of 2020, federal prosecutors revealed a deferred prosecution agreement between utility ComEd and the government that had the utility agree to pay $200 million for bribing “Public Official A.” It was later revealed through indictments the official was Madigan.

Since then, Madigan has been charged with 22 counts of corruption in the ComEd case and an additional count in a case involving AT&T’s former president. Earlier this year, four individuals, including Michael McClain, a close Madigan confidant and codefendant, were found guilty in the scheme.

Madigan’s former Chief of Staff Tim Mapes faces a trial next month. Madigan and McClain face charges next spring. All have pleaded not guilty.

Last month, Madigan made a motion to dismiss some of the counts. Monday, his attorneys asked for an amended bill of particulars.

“Madigan respectfully requests that the Court grant this Motion for Leave to permit him to amend his previously filed Motion for Bill of Particulars … to seek a bill of particulars that also requires the government to set forth the theory of liability―bribe or gratuity―it plans to advance at trial as to each alleged ‘thing of value’ he illegally received,” the motion said.

On Tuesday, prosecutors urged the court to ignore that motion.

Read more here. Read the federal prosecutors’ 152-page filing here.

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Despite statehouse corruption on full display with guilty verdicts against four individuals in the “ComEd Four” bribery trial, Illinois legislators left Springfield without sweeping ethics reforms.

A former Commonwealth Edison executive and three lobbyists, one being a close confidant of former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, were convicted last month. The scheme involved giving do-nothing jobs to Madigan associates in exchange for favorable legislation for the utility. Madgian has pleaded not guilty and faces trial next spring.

Early Saturday morning just before the budget was approved, state Rep. Ryan Spain, R-Peoria, said it’s “crazy” to leave town without addressing the issue.

“Four convictions all swirling around the person that presided at this rostrum, at this dias, for 38 years and we as a legislature are adjourning without doing anything on the topic of ethics reforms,” Spain said.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker said prosecutors have the tools they need to catch corrupt actors.

“Everybody that’s been tried and now convicted is being tried and convicted with laws that are already on the books,” Pritzker said during an unrelated event last week.

More can be done though, he conceded.

“And I think that there is as I have seen an effort to address red-light camera contributions,” Pritzker said.

House Bill 3903 will establish ethical parameters and guidelines for how the technology can be used and how the industry interacts with state and local elected officials. Among other regulations, one element prohibits contractors for such technology from making political donations.

More here.

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Steam escapes from Exelon Corp.’s nuclear plant in Byron, Ill.

New nuclear power plants could be once again utilized in the Land of Lincoln through a measure that is one step away from the governor’s desk.

The Illinois House recently amended a bill that seeks to end the nuclear energy moratorium. The legislation now needs approval from the Senate before being sent to Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

Senate Bill 76, if concurred by the Senate and signed by Pritzker, would delete language in state statute that says no construction shall commence on any new nuclear power plant located within the state. The legislation also gives energy companies an option to invest in the construction of traditional, large nuclear reactors or new, small modular reactors.

State Rep. Martin McLaughlin, R-Barrington Hills, said this is the best avenue for clean energy in Illinois.

“We have for far too long in this state ignored the only clean green energy that will get us to where we need to be from a capacity perspective,” McLaughlin said. “So I am absolutely thrilled that you are bringing this forward.”

In April, Pritzker was asked about the measure to lift the moratorium and said he is open to the idea if done correctly.

More here.

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Lake Michigan Wind Farm

Windmills currently dominate the landscape across many parts of Illinois, but now you may see them from the shores of Lake Michigan.

Senate Bill 193 is moving through the General Assembly and would create offshore wind.

“In order to do wind energy, you have to have a plan, so this lays out a pilot to start the process of developing wind energy not just on land but also our waters,” said State Rep. Marcus Evans, D-Chicago, the bill’s chief sponsor.

Proponents say it will create thousands of clean energy jobs and put Illinois one step closer to meeting goals set out in the Climate & Equitable Jobs Act. Those jobs would be offered to underserved residents.

The language in the bill states: “Provides that the Fund shall be used by the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity to encourage and facilitate the employment of construction workforces located in underrepresented populations.”

The legislation has received support from the Chicago Federation of Labor, the Chicago Urban League, and the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce.

More here,

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The Barrington Hills Park District Board will hold a, “Park Board & Decennial Committee on Local Government Efficiency,” meeting this evening in person and via Zoom at 7:00 PM. Topics on their agenda include:

  • Horizon Farm Track Proposal
  • Local Government Efficiency Act Meeting
  • Review of Agreements with RCBH, FRVPC, FRVH

A copy of their agenda can be viewed here. Instructions for accessing the meeting remotely can be found here.

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