FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Nov. 19, 2020
AARP Illinois, Illinois PIRG Mobilize 1.7 Million Older Adults to Demand Change After ComEd Bribery Indictments
Leaders from AARP Illinois and Illinois PIRG on Thursday called on older adults across the state to lead the charge in demanding utility legislation that puts consumers first, a day after four more indictments of influential Springfield lobbyists and past ComEd executives in an ongoing bribery scandal.
“What has happened in Springfield too often is that the utility companies have been writing the legislation and getting it passed – legislation that benefits them. That has to stop,” said Ryan Gruenenfelder, AARP Illinois Director of Advocacy and Outreach.
On a telephone town hall call to 70,000 members across Illinois, Gruenenfelder encouraged members to stay active and involved as AARP works hard to “ensure that members of the General Assembly stand up to corruption and make sure that rate payers, consumers, AARP members and all Illinoisans are considered first.”
“It’s extremely important to make sure your voices are heard,” he said.
Abe Scarr, Director of Illinois PIRG, said with 1.7 million members across the state of Illinois, AARP members needed to harness its force to fight against a system that has been shown to give power to the wrong people.
“I can’t stress enough how critical a role AARP members can play in this discussion,” Scarr said. “I’m really hoping that AARP members can be at the forefront in communicating with your elected representatives that you expect change in Springfield and you expect utility customers to take priority.”
The AARP Illinois Telephone Town Hall was the latest in the non-profit, non-partisan organization’s efforts to advocate on behalf of older adults on utility issues.
For years, AARP Illinois has demanded answers to why ComEd has been able to successfully wrangle the Illinois General Assembly into massive rate increases over the past decade – padding the pockets of shareholders while gouging average Illinois customers. When bribery charges were first announced in July, AARP Illinois commended the U.S. attorney’s office for filing charges and the $200 million settlement that stands up to corruption and pay-to-play politics. After this week’s additional charges AARP Illinois repeated its conviction that the charges are in the name of the everyday, hardworking citizens of Illinois who have unknowingly been forced to pay more than they should—and more than they can afford.
Callers on the Telephone Town Hall expressed frustration and surprise at the utility scandals, demanding to know the names of the representatives in the General Assembly that allowed this to occur and asking how they can ensure that their voices and consumer concerns are heard.
“AARP Illinois has stood on the front line to defend against the exact kinds of illegal actions that ComEd displayed in the past decade that allowed them to pass anything that they paid for in the General Assembly,” said Gruenenfelder. “As it has always done, AARP Illinois will continue to fight to ensure consumer voices are heard and their needs placed first in any utility-related energy negotiations happening in the foreseeable future, and will be unrelenting in the effort to stop the behavior that has resulted in a thrashing of Illinois ratepayers.”