Today’s Chicago Tribune spotlights Commonwealth Edison’s “charitable” contributions to activist groups that might be expected to oppose electricity rate increases. From the article by Julie Wernau:
Ken Boehm, chairman of the National Legal and Policy Center just outside Washington, D.C., called the practice of making such donations a "double cheat" on ratepayers.
"Why should ratepayers have to pay increased rates so the utility can go out and give money to groups that might otherwise criticize their increase request?" Boehm said.
The article also detailed contributions to foundations and groups associated with Illinois politicians:
Commonwealth Edison spent $27,000 in ratepayer money in 2013 for a golf outing hosted by members of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus, which was raising money for the legislative body's foundation.
ComEd used $736,000 in ratepayer money in 2011 to fund World Business Chicago, an economic development organization chaired by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. The CEO of ComEd parent company Exelon sits on the board of the group.
And ratepayers spent $10,000 in 2012 to support a Gold Coast cocktail reception where Anne Pramaggiore, ComEd's chief executive, received the "Woman of Achievement" award.
As we have exposed in New York state, charitable organizations associated with politicians have facilitated a host of corrupt relationships and often operate in violation of the law. Let’s hope this article by Julie Wernau is just the beginning of the scrutiny they deserve in Illinois.