Attorney General seeks more money from ComEd for House Speaker Madigan scandal

Attorney General seeks more money from ComEd for House Speaker Madigan scandal

A month after state regulators ordered Commonwealth Edison to pay $38 million in damages over the scandal linked to former House Speaker Michael Madigan, the Illinois attorney general wants consumers to get more.

Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul said Tuesday that ComEd used “accounting tricks” that cost consumers millions of dollars when the company separately paid a $200 million fine. Linked to the federal court case in the scandal, the attorney general is now seeking a larger refund.

Raul took over when he asked the Illinois Commerce Commission to reconsider an August order that called on ComEd to pay $38 million in refunds to consumers — an amount that could mean about $5 more for the average electricity user.

Raul, who works with Mayor Lori Lightfoot and consumer watchdog group Citizens Utility Board, said ComEd’s accounting technology has already allowed the company to raise an additional $7 million from customers and possibly millions more annually.

“ComEd should not be allowed to profit from its mistakes by using accounting tricks to raise more money,” Raul said in a statement. “The ICC should not allow ComEd to divert the impact of … the fine on clients by collecting millions of dollars from them annually.”

ComEd disagreed with the analysis, citing how the International Criminal Court agreed to recover $38 million. A ComEd spokesperson said the company has met its commitments.

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In July 2020, ComEd admitted it had hired Madigan’s friends in low-working jobs, awarded internships to a group of college kids from his 13th Ward empire, and put someone Madigan recommended on its board — all in the hope that the House Speaker It will look positively on the legislative agenda for the facility.

Madigan, a Chicago Democrat, was charged in March with 22 counts of bribery and extortion and pleaded not guilty.

ComEd entered into a deferred prosecution agreement with federal prosecutors and promised to pay a record fine of $200 million. The company has agreed to cooperate in the ongoing investigation, and if satisfied, prosecutors will drop the bribery charge.

To pay a $200 million fine on ComEd, Raoul said, the utilities received a contribution from its parent company, Exelon Corp. , causing a stock injection that gives ComEd a permanent boost.

Abby Scar, who heads the Illinois PIRG, a public interest research group, said the extra money for consumers wouldn’t be a big win for individuals, but “the principle matters.”

“ComEd used smart accounting to increase its profits from paying the federal criminal penalty,” Scar said.

The move also increased ComEd’s gross profit rate, Scar said.

Although similar arguments were used in previous ICC hearings, the organizers rejected them.

In a statement, Lightfoot said the push for a rehearing is “an important step in ensuring the protection of Chicago clients following these events that have damaged public confidence.”

Paul Ellsberg, a spokesman for ComEd, said the contributions Exelon made to fund ComEd’s payment of the criminal fine “were not paid by customers and had no effect on their rates.”

Twitter @raylong

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