Ex-Virginia House speaker files papers to run for governor

RICHMOND, Va. — Former Virginia House Speaker Kirk Cox has filed paperwork with the state to run for governor next year, joining a small field of Republicans looking to enter the race.

Cox, a retired school teacher who has served in the House of Delegates since 1990, on Wednesday filed a “statement of organization” to establish a campaign committee. Cox said he will not formally enter the race until after the presidential election in November.

Cox, 63, was elected as speaker in 2018, but lost that role after Democrats won a majority in both the House and Senate in November. He announced in August that he was seriously considering a run for governor, citing what he called a “vacuum of leadership” created by Democrats.

Cox has criticized Democrats during the current special legislative session, which was called by Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam to deal with the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic and to consider dozens of criminal justice and police reforms in the wake of the killing of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis. Cox has characterized some of the police reforms as “anti-law enforcement.”

In a written statement released Thursday, Cox said the special session has convinced him “that Republicans not only need to put forward a strong candidate that can actually win statewide, but also a series of ideas and policies that will improve lives and livelihoods.”

Cox has strong pro-business and anti-abortion credentials, but also helped push through Medicaid expansion, which conservatives opposed.

Firebrand conservative state Sen. Amanda Chase has announced she’s running for governor. Northern Virginia businessman Pete Snyder may also run.

Republicans have not won a statewide race in Virginia since 2009. Several Democrats, including former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, have either announced they are running or have indicated they might. Virginia law blocks Gov. Northam from running for re-election.

Cox represents the 66th District, which includes Colonial Heights and parts of Chesterfield.

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AG Dave Yost is doing the right thing on HB6, so why not House Speaker Bob Cupp? This Week in the CLE

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost is doing the right thing on the corrupt House Bill 6, so why isn’t House Speaker Bob Cupp?

We’re talking about Yost’s push to hold Energy Harbor and FirstEnergy accountable on the need for a $1.3 billion nuclear bailout on This Week in the CLE.

Listen online here.

Editor Chris Quinn hosts our daily half-hour coronavirus news podcast, with editors Jane Kahoun, Kris Wernowsky and me, answering all sorts of questions from the news.

You’ve been sending Chris lots of thoughts and suggestions on our from-the-newsroom account, in which he shares once or twice a day what we’re thinking about at cleveland.com. You can sign up for free by sending a text to 216-868-4802.

And you’ve been offering all sorts of great perspective in our coronavirus alert account, which has 13,000-plus subscribers. You can sign up for free by texting 216-279-7784.

Here are the questions we’re answering today:

What is Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost’s latest step to bring transparency and honesty to the move to repeal HB6, the corrupt bill adopted by the Ohio legislature to make us all pay $1.3 billion to bail out what were then FirstEnergy’s nuclear plants? Yost is urging state lawmakers to have Energy Harbor and FirstEnergy Corp. representatives testify before legislative committees and disclose whether the plants actually need the money.

Do we know anything more about the police officer who gave the finger Tuesday night to protesters who were demonstrating against, you guessed it, police abuse? Shaker Heights is investigating a police officer who flipped off a group of protesters demonstrating outside the presidential debate in Cleveland Tuesday. Adam Ferrise reports the Shaker officer was working in Cleveland as part of the presidential debate detail.

What laws might be getting broken by the people flashing political messages on the side of Terminal Tower? The city prosecutor’s office offered three sections of law that it believes prohibit the light display: a city law related to posting signs or other types of messages on private property without consent, a city law related to criminal mischief, and a state law related to political communications.

How bad were the television ratings for the wrestling match that purported to be a presidential debate in Cleveland Tuesday night? Despite speculation the first debate between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden could draw Super Bowl-like television ratings, the debate drew about 73.1 million Americans.

As expected, an appellate court slapped down a lower court’s order that the state accept online absentee ballot applications. What was the reasoning? The 10th District Court of Appeals said they agreed that state law doesn’t prohibit elections officials from accepting applications for absentee ballots via email or fax, but that the Ohio Democratic Party didn’t demonstrate a “right” under the law to “unlimited methods for delivery of their applications.”

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine is going to sign the prohibition on plastic bags even though he is against it. How does that work? DeWine

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Illinois House committee investigating Speaker Michael Madigan set to hear testimony from Exelon executive

An executive from Commonwealth Edison parent company Exelon is set to testify Tuesday before a special Illinois House committee investigating Speaker Michael Madigan in connection with a bribery case involving the utility.

a man sitting at a desk looking at a laptop: David Glockner, Exelon s executive vice president for compliance and audit, answers questions at a meeting with the Illinois Commerce Commission in Chicago on July 29, 2020. nn

© Jose M. Osorio / Chicago Tribune/Chicago Tribune/TNS
David Glockner, Exelon s executive vice president for compliance and audit, answers questions at a meeting with the Illinois Commerce Commission in Chicago on July 29, 2020. nn

The six-member special investigating committee, formed this summer after federal prosecutors alleged ComEd engaged in a “yearslong bribery scheme” aimed at currying favor with Madigan, has become a partisan flash point ahead of the November election.

The panel was formed at the request of House Republican leader Jim Durkin of Western Springs to determine whether Madigan engaged in “conduct unbecoming to a legislator” and should face potential discipline. The speaker and the panel’s Democratic chairman, state Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch of Hillside, have accused the GOP of political posturing. Republicans accuse Democrats of acting in defense of Madigan, who has not been charged and has denied wrongdoing.

Madigan was one of several witnesses the committee’s three Republicans asked to testify, but all declined the invitation, with the exception of ComEd. Set to testify on the utility’s behalf on Tuesday is David Glockner, Exelon’s executive vice president for compliance and audit.

The six-member panel could subpoena witnesses, but that would require one of three Democrats to vote with the three Republicans to compel testimony. One Democrat also would have to side with Republicans for the special committee to approve a charge against Madigan.

As part of a deferred prosecution agreement with the U.S. attorney’s office announced earlier this summer, ComEd agreed to pay a $200 million fine and cooperate with investigators after federal prosecutors alleged in July that the utility offered jobs, contracts and payments to Madigan allies in the hopes of winning support for favorable legislation.

The agreement with federal prosecutors focuses specifically on two major pieces of energy legislation approved in the legislature in the past decade: the 2011 Energy Infrastructure and Modernization Act and the 2016 Future Energy Jobs Act, both of which resulted in major benefits for the state’s largest utility.

In a letter Friday declining the invitation to testify, Madigan argued that “House Democrats won significant concessions, much to the chagrin of ComEd and Exelon, likely costing the companies millions of dollars in profits.”

Seeking to turn the tables on Durkin, Madigan noted the key role the House GOP leader and then-Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner played in negotiating the 2016 legislation, which opponents characterized as a bailout for two Exelon nuclear power plants.

“If Rep. Durkin were to put aside his current political agenda and speak honestly about his experiences with this energy legislation in which he was personally involved, I am certain he would attest that the process of negotiating that bill was bipartisan and his input was likely more valuable than mine,” Madigan wrote.

Following Madigan’s cue, Welch said in a statement Monday that he

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Two former Illinois governors, now out of prison, have advice for House Speaker Michael Madigan

Two former Illinois governors who served time in federal prison have some unsolicited advice for Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan.

George Ryan standing in front of a building

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Former Gov. George Ryan, who served prison time for federal corruption charges, was the Speaker of the House before Madigan was elected speaker in 1983.


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“I always got along with Mike and we worked together pretty much to get things done for the state and we worked together when I was speaker and when I was governor,” Ryan said in an interview. “Mike’s got his hands full, I think.”

Ryan, a Republican, is doing interviews promoting his book, “Until I Could Be Sure,” which focuses on his steps to stop the death penalty in Illinois in 1999 before being convicted and sentenced to prison for corruption in 2006.

The 86-year-old Ryan had a message for the 78-year-old Madigan about being in the scope of federal investigators.

“You know when the FBI puts their ‘x’ on you that they’re going to prosecute you, they’re only about 92 percent effective,” Ryan said. “They’re probably the most effective agency in government.”

“That’s always the best advice, be open and above board about everything,” Ryan said.

In late July on his podcast for WLS radio, former Gov. Rod Blagojevich said Madigan should be honest.

“If you’re not going to fight back and deny this stuff and tell the people who look to you as a major public official that not only did you not doing anything wrong but ‘I’m going to take the questions and answer specific allegations and I’ve got nothing to hide,’ unless you do that then you’re telling me you’re guilty,” Blagojevich said.

Blagojevich, a Democrat who calls himself a “Trumpocrat,” maintains his innocence of federal corruption charges despite serving years in prison, only to have his sentence commuted by President Donald Trump earlier this year.

The Speaker needs to come clean with the people of Illinois, Blagojevich said.

“We don’t have a government of the people, by the people and for the people,” Blagojevich said. “It is instead government of Mike Madigan, by Mike Madigan and for Mike Madigan.”

Madigan Friday declined to voluntarily testify in front of a House committee. Tuesday’s House hearing in Springfield won’t have any witnesses, according to chairman state Rep. Chris Welch, D-Hillside. It’s unclear if the committee will move to subpoena Madigan to testify, Madigan said Friday that he won’t appear before the committee.

Tags: States, News, Illinois, Death Penalty, Rod Blagojevich

Original Author: Greg Bishop, The Center Square

Original Location: Two former Illinois governors, now out of prison, have advice for House Speaker Michael Madigan

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Officials allow Illinois lawmakers to investigate House speaker bribery scandal

Federal prosecutors gave Illinois lawmakers the green light to perform an independent investigation into long-time House Speaker Michael Madigan, committee members said, but Democrats and Republicans disagree on what it means for the investigation.

The Illinois House of Representatives will continue its proceedings after U.S. Attorney John Lausch Jr. told the House Special Investigation Committee that it would be allowed to move forward as long as it doesn’t jeopardize his ongoing probe into ComEd and the company’s patronage and bribery scheme aimed at currying favor with Madigan.

The speaker has not been charged with a crime and has denied wrongdoing. Madigan was implicated in ComEd’s deferred prosecution agreement.

The committee’s chairman, state Rep. Chris Welch, D-Hillside, said Tuesday that the committee plans to continue but its actions will be limited.

“The U.S. Attorney made it clear we could seek testimony from whoever we choose; however, they requested we refrain from seeking any materials or testimony related to the [deferred prosecution agreement] that is still confidential or anything in the possession of the federal government. In other words, we can call witnesses, but we can’t really ask them any questions,” he said in a statement.

Welch said he was disappointed that information from his and state Rep. Tom Demmer’s, R-Dixon, conversation with Lausch was made public prematurely.

“We wouldn’t be engaged in this he/say she/say conversation if Demmer had not jumped the gun to put out his false narrative,” Welch said. “But once again my Republican colleagues have disrespected the process for political gain.”

Demmer did not respond to a call about Welch’s comments, but told WBEZ that Lausch’s comments to him and Welch cleared a path for Madigan to be called to testify before the committee.

House Republicans made it clear they’d like to interrogate Madigan ally and former ComEd lobbyist Michael McLain, former City Club of Chicago CEO Jay Doherty and others connected to the probe.

The investigative committee is a political function that’s more akin to a fact-finding mission. Should they vote to move forward, the matter is turned over to another committee of lawmakers who will deliberate what Welch’s group found and mete out punishment.

The only other time the procedure has been used in Illinois history was in a 2012 probe about bribery allegations against Rep. Derrick Smith, D-Chicago.

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Texts show Ex-House speaker pushed lawmaker to pass bailout


COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio lawmaker leading the charge to repeal a nuclear bailout bill was unsuccessfully pressured by the former House speaker to vote in favor of its passage, newly released records show.

In late May 2019, former House Speaker Larry Householder texted his fellow GOP colleague Rep. Dave Greenspan to ensure he had his vote for the bill that is now at the center of a $60 million federal bribery probe, according to a series of text messages released by the Ohio House on Thursday.

Federal prosecutors in July accused Householder and four others of shepherding energy company money for personal and political use as part of an effort to pass the legislation, then kill any attempt to repeal it at the polls. All five men have pleaded not guilty.

“I really need you to vote yes on HB6, it means a lot to me,” Householder wrote in the text messages released Thursday. “Can I count on you?”

The bill in question would send more than $1 billion to two Ohio nuclear plants near Cleveland and Toledo now owned by Energy Harbor, a former subsidiary of FirstEnergy Corp.

It just so happened that Greenspan was sitting down for an interview with FBI agents when he received the text message from Householder, according to the criminal complaint, which identified Greenspan as “Representative 7.”

Greenspan, a Westlake Republican, responded no to Householder’s request, citing “significant challenges” with the bill.

Householder replied, “I just want

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Oklahoma House hires former speaker T.W. Shannon to aid in redistricting

The Oklahoma House has hired a former Republican speaker to help with the upcoming redistricting process.

House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka, announced Monday the hiring of former Speaker T.W. Shannon to serve as the chamber’s public liaison on redistricting.

Shannon will help solicit public input on how House legislative districts should look for the next decade and build bridges between the public and legislators throughout the redistricting process that occurs following the U.S. Census. He also will serve as a spokesman to the public and media outlets, according to a news release.

“T.W. Shannon is an incredibly effective communicator whose diversity and deep understanding of all of Oklahoma will strongly benefit the House’s public-focused redistricting process,” McCall said.

Shannon will be paid $6,250 per month on a month-to-month contract, said a spokesman for McCall. He will report to the House Redistricting Committee and eight regional subcommittees on which all 101 House members will serve.

Senate leadership also hired outside help to aid in the redistricting process. Keith Beall, who was chief of staff to former Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb, will serve as Senate redistricting director. He will be paid $105,000, according to the Tulsa World.

The House has established a redistricting process that will allow all Oklahomans to be heard while producing proper leadership for the state, Shannon said.

“House seats belong to the public, and it is an honor to help the public bring their vision for their representation to the table in the critical constitutional process of redistricting,” he said.

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Incoming House speaker warns of ‘deep budget cuts’ coming to Florida government programs

Florida’s incoming House speaker warned members of the South Florida Business Council this week that in order to weather the “massive financial hit” the state sustained from the pandemic, there will need to be “significant cuts to the budget.”

Rep. Chris Sprowls, a Palm Harbor Republican who is in line to become the speaker of the Florida House of Representatives for two years in November, hinted that the budget austerity needed to recover from the coronavirus-induced recession would take “three to four years to get back to where we are,” but he was optimistic Florida would be in better shape than other states.

“We’ve had an obviously massive financial hit to the state, not unlike the businesses we’ve seen interrupted or closed during this period of time in COVID, which is going to create a significant challenge for us,’’ Sprowls told the virtual webinar of about 250 members of the council, which includes members of the chambers of commerce in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties.

“The only way to kind of weather that storm and get the state back on its feet is going to mean significant cuts to the budget,’’ he said.“ There’s going to be businesses and restaurants that unfortunately never open their doors again here in Florida, and that’s going to take a toll on the economy.”

A survey of the group’s members before the event found that 64% said that COVID-19 is the top issue facing Florida.

But, in keeping with Florida’s Republican governor and incoming Senate president, all of whom are Trump supporters devoted to helping the incumbent president win re-election, Sprowls refrained from discussing some of the darker details related to the COVID-induced troubles in the state’s budget.

For example, Florida economists say the state faces faces a $5.4 billion budget deficit over the next two years that will necessitate the budget cuts. The governor has suspended COVID-related evictions and mortgage foreclosures five times, the latest expiring on Oct. 1 and the decision has left a housing industry in limbo with no promise for what could happen to the hundreds of thousands of families who don’t have the money to pay their owed back rent.

Sprowls also avoided any mention of the state’s unemployment rolls, a number that shows signs of improving in August but which remains at 7.4% compared to the pre-COVID record lows. And he said nothing about the fate of the state’s unemployment fund, which by Election Day could run out of cash to pay benefits to jobless workers.

Legislators on the sideline

As the coronanvirus barreled into Florida, shuttering businesses in the peak of the summer tourist season and infecting nearly 700,000 residents, Sprowls and other Republican legislative leaders have left the spotlight to Gov. Ron DeSantis.

This month, Sprowls and incoming Senate President Wilton Simpson penned an op-ed addressing another issue not often touched by Republicans: a call for better floodplain management in the face of sea level rise.

Democrats have tried and failed to call for

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U.S. House Speaker Pelosi to Confer With Airline CEOs on Aid: Sources | Top News

By David Shepardson and Tracy Rucinski

WASHINGTON/CHICAGO (Reuters) – U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi will speak on Friday afternoon with the chief executives of the country’s top airlines, who are urging Congress to approve another $25 billion in assistance to keep tens of thousands of U.S. workers on the payroll past Sept. 30, sources said.

Pelosi and House Transportation Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio are expected to hold a 2:45 p.m. EDT (1845 GMT) call with the chief executives of United Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Southwest Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Hawaiian Airlines, Alaska Airlines and others, a Democratic aide told Reuters.

The end of this month marks expiration of the $25 billion in federal payroll assistance that airlines received when the coronavirus first began spreading around the world.

Airlines and unions are pleading for a six-month extension as part of a bipartisan proposal for another $1.5 trillion in coronavirus relief. At the same time, airlines are negotiating with employees to minimize thousands of job cuts that are expected without another round of aid.

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows met with major airline chief executives on Thursday. He said President Donald Trump is also open to a stand-alone measure for airlines, though congressional aides say that is unlikely to win support given aid requests from so many other struggling industries.

Pelosi has said cited airlines and restaurants as two industries that need additional help but said that could mean less for other parts of the coronavirus relief bill.

“We recognize the severe impact the virus is having on our entire economy and the need for support touches many other individuals, organizations and programs. Assistance now can help to lessen the long-term impact to the economy and ultimately speed recovery,” United CEO Scott Kirby said in a letter to Congress on Friday.

“The aviation industry is a critical driver of the larger economy,” he said in the letter, which was also signed by the leaders of five unions.

Up to 16,000 United jobs are at risk without aid, he said. American has said it plans to end service to 15 small communities without additional government assistance and furlough about 19,000 workers.

Air travel has plummeted over the last six months as the coronavirus pandemic has claimed nearly 196,000 American lives and prompted many to avoid airports and planes, seriously depressing airline revenues.

Congress also set aside another $25 billion in government loans for airlines, but many have opted not to tap that funding source.

(Reporting by David Shepardson and Tracy Rucinski; editing by Jonathan Oatis and David Gregorio)

Copyright 2020 Thomson Reuters.

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Freedom Caucus pushing McCarthy to back long-shot effort to remove Pelosi as House speaker

Members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus are trying to convince House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to back an effort to remove Nancy Pelosi as the speaker of the chamber, an unrealistic long-shot effort happening less than seven weeks before Election Day.

McCarthy, R-Calif., on “The Ingraham Angle” Wednesday night said he is not interested in pursuing the move against the speaker, essentially dashing any hope the Freedom Caucus members — who occupy just about 40 of the 435 seats in the House of Representatives — would have had of gaining traction in their effort.

“What I’m in favor of is defeating Nancy Pelosi and [Jerry] Nadler and all the others,” McCarthy said as he made his pitch for Republicans deposing Pelosi, D-Calif., the old-fashioned way — by winning elections on Nov. 3. “If we were able to remove Nancy Pelosi you’d have another Democrat. The real challenge would be we’re … four weeks away from [the] election, or 40-some days. These Democrats could actually vote against Nancy Pelosi, use it in their campaigns to say they’re not with her, even though they vote with her 95% of the time.”


But if the vote is forced it could put moderate Democrats in the uncomfortable spot of backing the controversial Pelosi on the record or publicly spurning their caucus’ leader. The Freedom Caucus is known for its rabble-rousing antics in the House. Its members previously mounted an effort against former House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, which was unsuccessful.

“I don’t think it’s the best move at this moment,” McCarthy continued. “I think the best move is win 218 seats and that defeats Nancy Pelosi.”

House Freedom Caucus Chairman Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., however, prodded Republican leadership to engage with the long-shot effort to remove Pelosi in a Wednesday night tweet.


“Isn’t it past time for Rep. Nancy Pelosi to leave her office as Speaker of the House?” he said. “I call upon our leaders in Congress to put forward the Motion to Vacate the Chair that has been prepared and merely needs to be brought to the floor.”

Biggs linked to a Sept. 7 Fox News op-ed in which he made the case for removing Pelosi — though the op-ed does not acknowledge the nearly nonexistent chance of success such a motion would have. Every Republican could vote for it, as well as double-digit Democrats in a campaign stunt that McCarthy says could help them in moderate districts, and Pelosi would still hold onto the speaker’s gavel.

“Pelosi recently referred to members of Congress who support President Donald Trump as ‘domestic criminals,'” Biggs wrote. “The left hates President Trump and the Americans who voted for him. In and of itself, it is a most despicable statement designed to divide the nation, but it shows a disregard for the institution itself.”

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