CHICAGO (WLS) -- Charges have been filed for the first time in the ongoing ComEd investigation that has implicated Illinois' powerful House Speaker Michael Madigan.
House Speaker Mike Madigan was formally accused of "conduct unbecoming of a legislator" Thursday. A special House committee launched a probe of bribery allegations against Madigan stemming from the federal ComEd investigation.
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The Special House Investigative Panel convened in Springfield with three Republicans and three Democrats with masks and social distancing, but no Madigan.
Republicans filed a formal charge Thursday accusing Madigan of breaching the public trust and conduct unbecoming of a legislator as detailed in the federal case against ComEd.
"Including engaging in a bribery scheme, an extortion scheme conspiracy to violate federal and state laws, amongst other misconduct and misuse of the office," House Republican Leader Jim Durkin said.
Madigan, who previously called this investigation a political stunt, issued a statement Thursday through a spokesperson, saying: "He has never made a legislative decision with improper motives and has engaged in no wrongdoing here. Any claim to the contrary is unfounded."
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Committee members said they will ask US Attorney John Lausch for guidance before proceeding, so as not to interfere with his investigation. But Republicans will be asking key players in the case to voluntarily cooperate by testifying or providing emails or other documents.
Panel chairman State Rep. Chris Welch, D-Westchester, accused Republicans of playing politics.
"I certainly believe that there's some political posturing going on," Welch said. "You know, I think the timing of the petition, certainly coincides with the election."
Two of the Republicans on the committee, who are in tough reelection battles with Madigan-supported opponents, denied that.
"To suggest that this is a political issue, it's really, it's really insulting actually," said State Rep. Deanne Mazzochi, R-Westmont. "This is not a political stunt, this is a truth hunt."
The committee is now waiting to hear from the US Attorney's office before proceeding. Both sides said they want to conduct this investigation expeditiously and finish before the election, but moving forward with any charges requires a majority vote.