Consumer Protection

ComEd Bribery & Power Rate Inflation

Lieff Cabraser and co-counsel represent Illinois power customers and ratepayers in a federal bribery class action lawsuit filed in August 2020 in Illinois against Commonwealth Edison. The suit alleges a corrupt scheme under which Commonwealth Edison funneled payments to the Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives over many years to ensure passage of bills permitting ComEd to charge dramatically higher electric rates in Illinois dating back to 2011.

The bribery and corruption class action against ComEd alleges that over many years, ComEd paid bribes to Michael J. Madigan, the powerful Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives, so that Madigan would ensure passage through the Illinois legislature of bills permitting ComEd to charge higher electric rates. The multi-year illegal scheme benefitted ComEd, defendant Exelon Corporation, and Madigan; the losers were public trust in government, the people of Illinois, and ComEd’s customers.

The complaint alleges that the scheme was part of a longstanding “pay to play” enterprise headed by Madigan, involving his network of loyalists as well as defendants and their individual employees and representatives.

As the complaint sets out, and as has been admitted publicly in a Deferred Prosecution Agreement between ComEd and the U.S. Department of Justice, ComEd hired Madigan’s associates as “subcontractors,” who were paid well (to the tune of more than $1.3 million) for little or no work, appointed another associate to its board of directors (without interviewing or even considering other candidates), and retained a particular law firm “with the intent to influence and reward” Madigan. Further, ComEd concealed its illegal payments using off-the-books payment records and fraudulent invoices.

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