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'Pervasive culture of corruption': Rep. Keicher, opponent Paul Stoddard on Madigan, Com-Ed controversy

State Rep. Jeff Keicher (R-Sycamore) issued a pointed call for ethics reform amid allegations of federal bribery charges against Commonwealth Edison and Illinois Speaker of the House Michael Madigan, and his opponent, Paul Stoddard, said a full investigation is required.

"[The] announcement by the U.S. Attorney’s Office regarding the federal bribery charges filed against ComEd and the implication of Speaker Madigan’s role in the misconduct, demonstrate how pervasive the culture of corruption remains embedded in Illinois State Government," Keicher said in a statement. "The tight grip of Chicago machine politics controlling the passage of legislation needs to be broken once and for all."

Federal prosecutors said electric utility ComEd has agreed to pay $200 million to resolve a federal criminal investigation into a long-running bribery scheme that implicates Madigan. They say the company has admitted that from 2011 to 2019 it arranged jobs, subcontracted work and monetary payments related to those jobs “for various associates of a high-level elected official for the state of Illinois."

The U.S. Attorney's Office identified the high-level elected official as “Public Official A” in a news release. A deferred prosecution agreement for ComEd filed in federal court states that “Public Official A” is the Illinois House speaker, but Madigan — a Chicago Democrat who is the longest-serving state House speaker in modern American history — is not mentioned by name.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Friday that Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan “must resign” if allegations of corruption are true against the fellow Democrat long considered the state’s most powerful lawmaker.

Stoddard, who is running as a Democrat in the hopes to unseat Keicher, also issued a statement on social media, and called the allegations 'troubling.'

"We must hold our elected officials to the highest possible standards," Stoddard said. "Too often have our ideals about government been shattered by corrupt politicians seeking to grab power and enrich themselves. To move forward and prosper we need to have faith that our government is working for us, not exploiting us. To maintain that faith we must thoroughly investigate all corruption allegations. These investigations must be transparent to the public."

Stoddard said a trial is needed.

"We have the right - no - the obligation to see the facts of these cases," Stoddard continued. "When warranted, fair and open trials must take place, and if found guilty, officials must step down. This full process needed to happen when President Trump was impeached (but alas, didn’t), and it needs to happen now with Speaker Madigan."

Keicher said in the past he's attempted to put forward legislation regarding ethics reform unsuccessfully.

"In the two years I’ve been in Springfield, I have co-sponsored several pieces of ethics reform legislation that was never allowed to see the light of day, let alone a hearing or a vote," he said. "[Friday's] deeply troubling news concerning ComEd is a reminder of how urgently we need to pass tough, comprehensive ethics reform in Illinois to root out corruption in public office.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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