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Exelon Unit Admits Bribery as Probe Entangles Illinois Speaker

July 17, 2020, 8:45 PM

Exelon Corp.’s Commonwealth Edison unit is admitting to bribery in a deal that ends a federal lobbying investigation, prompting the governor of Illinois to say the speaker of the state’s House of Representatives may have to step down.

Commonwealth Edison, the biggest electric utility in Illinois, agreed to pay $200 million to resolve the probe by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois, according to a statement Friday.

From 2011 to 2019, employees of Commonwealth Edison unit arranged jobs, vendor subcontracts and monetary payments for the benefit of “Public Official A” in an effort to influence the official, according to charges from the U.S. Attorney. The document said the official was the speaker of the house, though it did not identify current House Speaker Mike Madigan by name.

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker said he’s “deeply troubled” with the allegations.

“The speaker has a lot that he needs to answer for,” Pritzker said at an event on Friday. “If these allegations of wrongdoing by the speaker are true, there is no question that he will have betrayed the public trust and he must resign.”

Maura Possley, a Madigan spokeswoman, denied the allegations. Madigan was served with subpoenas Friday and will cooperate with requests for documents.

“He has never made a legislative decision with improper motives and has engaged in no wrongdoing here,” Possley said by email. “Any claim to the contrary is unfounded.”

Exelon disclosed in July 2019 that it had received a grand jury subpoena into its lobbying efforts, and in February warned that it may have been facing criminal penalties. Anne Pramaggiore, the head of Exelon’s utility unit, abruptly resigned in October after the company disclosed a second subpoena. Exelon didn’t give a reason, but analysts said at the time that the events were almost certainly connected.

After an investigation, the company discovered some ComEd employees had engaged in “inappropriate conduct,” according to Chief Executive Officer Christopher Crane. Its shares gained 3.5% to $39.40 at the close in New York.

“A small number of senior ComEd employees and outside contractors orchestrated this misconduct, and they no longer work for the company,” Crane said in the statement.

Under a deferred prosecution agreement, the company agreed to the government’s filing of a single charge that will be dismissed after three years, provided it abides by all terms of the deal. A related Securities and Exchange Commission investigation and civil lawsuits remain pending.

To contact the reporters on this story:
Will Wade in New York at wwade4@bloomberg.net;
Shruti Date Singh in Chicago at ssingh28@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story:
Joe Ryan at jryan173@bloomberg.net

Catherine Traywick, William Selway

© 2020 Bloomberg L.P. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

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