Feb 3, 2020
People in Illinois may have noticed that their wallets are a little lighter these days—partly because power bills are up 37% over the last six years. Why is that? It’s not like the power has gotten any “better” or “fancier” in that time. In fact, Illinois’ power supplier has to get the approval of state regulators and politicians in order to be able to charge consumers more.
So if they didn’t make power “better,” how were they able to get politicians to sign off on raising our power rates? By handing them lots of money, of course! ComEd has the largest lobbying operation in Illinois. They spent 16 million dollars on campaign donations and lobbying, just in 2011. Anne Pramaggiore, a former ComEd CEO, stood next to Mike Madigan, the boss of the Democratic Party politics in Illinois, in a receiving line at a yearly fundraiser for the Democratic Party. So the message was loud and clear—ComEd was sharing its wealth with politicians—in order to be able to take more wealth out of the pockets of its customers.
ComEd has also been very strategic in hiring Springfield lobbyists. They were paying Mike McClain, who happens to be Madigan’s right-hand man.
Another in their army of lobbyists was Angie Sandoval. Sandoval is the daughter of Martin Sandoval—the long-time state senator who was behind the 45-billion-dollar infrastructure bill that passed earlier this year. Sandoval opposed a ComEd rate increase in 2008, but had a change of heart three years later, after ComEd started opening its checkbook to politicians in a big way. Soon after, ComEd hired Angie straight out of college. It surprised nobody when Martin was forced to resign his senate seat; he’s now pleading guilty to federal bribery charges.
Many politicians and a few executives may get thrown out for all this corruption. But we can expect ComEd will keep at it, as long it can find a way to take our money.