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U.S. Attorney allowing witnesses to testify for legislative Madigan investigation, partisan debate already heating up

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9.15 Web

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - Federal prosecutors have given state lawmakers approval to move forward with their legislative investigation into House Speaker Mike Madigan.

Special Investigating Committee Chair Emanuel "Chris" Welch and Minority Spokesman Tom Demmer spoke with U.S. Attorney John Lausch Monday. Lausch is in charge of the federal investigation surrounding a bribery scheme with Commonwealth Edison.

Both sides agreed to document their conversation in memos for committee members and the public. However, Demmer discussed information from the call with news outlets Monday night. Welch feels Demmer "leaked" parts of the discussion for "political points."

"We can call a whole bunch of witnesses and pretty much not ask them any questions about what they received from the government. The Republicans know that, so they put out a false narrative," Welch said during an interview Tuesday morning.

Welch explained Lausch wants the committee to stay away from any "confidential materials or testimony" the federal government possesses. That includes the names of anonymous individuals described in ComEd's deferred prosecution agreement.

"I think they gave us helpful guidance, and that's why we agreed to put that guidance in writing. I also believe, by doing that, we were going to avoid the 'he said, she said,'" Welch added.

Moving forward with the process

Meanwhile, Demmer says this isn't about political points. He notes many people have an interest in what the investigating committee is doing.

"We were simply proceeding along with the normal course of business and illustrating to folks that there was no reason that we needed to delay the work of the committee," Demmer said Tuesday afternoon.

Republican members submitted a list of individuals and groups they hope to hear from during the initial hearing last week. Demmer explained Lausch doesn't object to the committee's work or calling of any names on the witness list, including Speaker Madigan.

"Now that we've got an indication that there's no objection from the U.S. Attorney's office to us calling for them, I think it makes sense that we hear from him and hear some of the answers he might be able to bring to the table," added Demmer.

The Republican hopes the committee can meet next week. Still, Welch says he won't set a hearing date until they receive Lausch's response in writing.

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Mike Miletich

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