SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Top members of the legislative committee investigating House Speaker Mike Madigan planned to send a letter to the U.S. Attorney’s office this week.
However, Chairman Emanuel “Chris” Welch and Rep. Tom Demmer couldn’t come to an agreement on how to document their Monday phone call with U.S. Attorney John Lausch. Instead, the Democrat and Republican sent separate letters including their personal understanding of what happened.
“My letter reflects our understanding that while the U.S. Attorney’s Office had no objection to witnesses being invited to voluntarily testify as part of the committee’s work, they would object to witnesses disclosing material information or documents related to their federal investigation or grand jury deliberations – specifically information underlying the government’s deferred prosecution agreement with Commonwealth Edison,” Welch stated.
The Hillside Democrat also notes the House Republican petition that created the committee “inextricably linked” to ComEd’s deferred prosecution agreement. Demmer (R-Dixon) told the Capitol Bureau on Tuesday that his caucus isn’t using this process for “political points.” Welch finds that hard to believe.
“It’s clear that the Republicans did not get the answers they wanted from U.S. Attorney Lausch and are now attempting to reinterpret the details to fit their political strategy,” added Welch.
House Republican Spokesperson Eleni Demertzis said Demmer sent Welch a draft of their letter for edits and input. However, Demertzis says the Democrat’s team sent over their own draft late Wednesday morning, excluding content from Demmer’s letter.
“We did not argue, and sent back our own edits to their draft,” Demertzis stated. “At 4:15 p.m., Rep Demmer received a call from Rep Welch indicating they were going to send their version of the letter at 4:30, without any of our suggestions or changes.”
Demertzis said the caucus would send their own letter shortly, looking forward to Lausch’s response. However, the caucus decided not to release their memo to the Capitol Bureau.
“Out of respect for the process of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, we will not be releasing our letter until we receive their response,” Demertzis stated.
The Illinois Republican Party also weighed in on the memo debacle.
“At this point, Rep. Welch is performing as a human shield for his mentor, Mike Madigan. It’s sad and pathetic,” stated IL GOP Spokesman Joe Hackler. “Welch should be trying to get those answers instead of doing everything in his power to protect Madigan.”
Hackler added Gov. JB Pritzker and other Democrats asking for answers should “speak up” and “stop these antics.”
Welch previously explained the committee cannot reconvene until Lausch responds to the letters.