A special House committee charged with investigating House Speaker Michael Madigan will hold its first meeting next week.


The House Special Investigating Committee II will hold a hearing Thursday in Springfield.


In an interview earlier this week, Rep. Emanuel "Chris" Welch, D-Hillside, said the initial meeting will be organizational in nature and establish the groundwork for conducting future meetings. He said he does not know yet how many additional meetings may be needed or how long the process may take.


"We have to discuss this as a group. No one person can make a decision," he said.


Using an obscure House rule, House Republican Leader Jim Durkin and two other Republicans filed a petition to form a committee to look into Madigan’s dealings with Commonwealth Edison. ComEd agreed to pay a $200 million fine after federal prosecutors charged the utility with one count of bribery. They said ComEd gave contracts and jobs to Madigan associates in an attempt to curry favor with the Speaker. The bribery count will be dropped in the future if ComEd continues to cooperate with prosecutors in their on-going investigation.


Madigan has not been charged with anything and has denied any wrongdoing.


Madigan issued a strongly worded statement branding the move a "political stunt" designed to divert attention from the upcoming elections where the Republican ticket will be led by President Donald Trump.


In their petition, the Republicans said the investigation is justified.


"Given the fact admitted by ComEd for its nine-year-long scheme to bribe Speaker Madigan, the Illinois House of Representatives must do its job and conduct a thorough investigation," Durkin said in a statement.


The committee is evenly split between Republicans and Democrats. Durkin appointed Reps. Tom Demmer of Dixon, Deanne Mazzochi of Elmhurst and Grant Wehrli of Naperville as the GOP members of the committee.


In addition to Welch, the other Democrats are Reps. Elizabeth Hernandez of Cicero and Natalie Manley of Joliet.


Durkin said the U.S. Attorney’s office has been notified of the committee and that the House investigation will not interfere with the ongoing federal investigation.


The process being invoked by the GOP has only been used twice in the past. Once followed the arrest and indictment of former Rep. Derrick Smith, D-Chicago, and the other was after former Rep. Luis Arroyo, D-Chicago, was charged by federal authorities.


Contact Doug Finke: doug.finke@sj-r.com, 788-1527, twitter.com/dougfinkesjr