Madigan investigation continues; CURE funding slow to be approved

Special Investigating Committee questions ComEd about Madigan bribery scheme

The House Special Investigating Committee which is looking into a bribery scheme involving electric utility ComEd, which has also implicated House Speaker Michael Madigan, heard testimony from a senior ComEd executive last week. ComEd Vice President David Glockner testified to admissions that ComEd had engaged in a multi-year bribery scheme to influence a government official (identified as Speaker Madigan) with jobs and a board seat for Madigan associates.

Glockner confirmed that ComEd had paid at least $1.3 million, in part to influence Madigan’s actions as Speaker. The nature of the payments ranged from campaign donations, to jobs, to selecting people with ties to Madigan to serve as consultants to ComEd.

Glockner was the executive who entered into an agreement with federal prosecutors who are continuing their investigation. As the ComEd executive in charge of overseeing and implementing ComEd’s side of the agreement, Glockner; who was hired after the conduct in question took place; is knowledgeable about the actions of the firm. 

On the same day as ComEd was testifying before the Committee, a former ComEd vice president, Fidel Marquez, pleaded guilty to his role in the bribery scheme.  

The Republican members of the committee held a press conference Thursday to renew their call for the use of subpoenas to force the Speaker and others involved in the scheme to testify.

Restore Illinois report highlights problems with local CURE funding

I am a member of the Restore Illinois Collaborative Commission, a bipartisan joint commission which engages in oversight of state agencies’ handling of the coronavirus response. On Thursday we received a report from the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity which outlined the progress of their initiatives to help small businesses and local communities recover.

Some of these initiatives are making more progress than others. Among those lagging behind are programs having to do with contact tracing, and help to local governments. One notable weak spot is the Local CURE program, which helps local governments handle the extra expenses that have come from the pandemic response. These have included extra costs for law enforcement and medical responses.

According to the report, however, only a small portion, less than 1%, of the funds set aside for the program have been paid out: roughly $1.35 million out of a total of $250 million. Many applications are stuck in an approval pipeline, and we do not know when we might see a determination. Funding for the program comes from Congress to state governments who will then distribute it to local governments. If Illinois does not use these funds we will have to send the money back to Washington.

29,000 Illinoisans filed for unemployment benefits in most recent weekly report

The Department of Employment Security is reporting that 29,000 Illinoisans filed for unemployment in the week ending September 21, the most recent week for which figures are available. This figure is similar to those reported for earlier weeks, showing a stable pattern of 20,000 to 30,000 new applications each week.

Hardest hit industries continue to be those associated with food service, transportation and hospitality, with a major hotel industry group warning of the possibility of continuing layoffs in that field. Illinois’ leisure and hospitality sector supports 477,700 jobs, which is down from 621,400 jobs in the same sector one year ago.

More news from around the state

The latest update from the Department of Public Health

Livingston among the 28 counties now at coronavirus warning level

ICC grants emergency relief to avoid solar market disruption and preserve net metering

Pandemic stress brings rise in gnashing, cracked teeth

Precautions mean all’s quiet at grain elevators

Reminder about grants for agriculture businesses hit hard by the pandemic

Halloween safety during COVID-19

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For continually updated news from state agencies, visit: coronavirus.illinois.gov or my website at repbennett.com and click on COVID-19 Info. Persons with coronavirus questions or concerns should call the statewide toll-free coronavirus hotline at 1-800-889-3931. You can also submit questions via e-mail at dph.sick@illinois.gov.

My district offices remain closed to in-person visits, but are still accessible by phone at (815) 432-0106 (Watseka) and (815) 844-9179 (Pontiac).