Riverside resident Carrie Zalewski is stepping down from her position as chair of the Illinois Commerce Commission. She announced last week that she will leave the ICC on June 16, seven months before her five-year term expires on January 15, 2024.
She said she is leaving early because the ICC has a lot of cases coming up later in the year and she wanted her replacement to have enough time to prepare for them.
“To just pick up and leave in the middle of that would be very disruptive and unfair for a new commission to come in, that’s the idea,” Zalewski told the Landmark. “The timing just makes sense. I’ve been at the state for 17 years and I’m ready to move on.”
In a press release announcing her decision to step down, Gov. J.B. Pritzker praised Zalewski’s work at the Illinois Commerce Commission.
“Zalewski served the State of Illinois diligently during a period of challenging unprecedented circumstances and clean energy transition, and her stalwart leadership was essential to the successes of that period,” Pritzker said.
Pritzker will nominate former Rockford Mayor Doug Scott to replace Zalewski.
Zalewski’s is married to former state Rep. Mike Zalewski and her departure from the ICC could be connected to her husband’s plan, according to published reports, to become a lobbyist.
State law bars paid state board and commission members from serving if their spouse is a lobbyist, unless the lobbyist is also an elected official.
Mike Zalewski, who served seven terms in the Illinois House before losing to Abdelnasser Rashid in the Democratic primary last summer, told the Landmark that he will announce his future plans shortly. He told the Landmark that he is considering lobbying.
“As a family we’ve gone through what I would consider, what I think an objective person would consider, a tumultuous nine months,” said Mike Zalewski. “And I think as we make long term decisions about our future, we’ve both come to the decision that it’s time for an exciting new chapter.”
Carrie Zalewski’s announcement came just days before start of a ComEd bribery trial in which the name of her father-in-law could be mentioned, although he is not charged with any crime.
ComEd’s former CEO, its former chief lobbyist, a lobbyist subcontractor and an outside lobbyist for ComEd who was a confidante of former Illinois Speaker of the House Michael Madigan are accused of bribing Madigan by giving Madigan’s allies and associates jobs and contracts.
One of the Madigan associates who allegedly benefited was former Chicago 23rd Ward Ald. Michael Zalewski. The federal indictment alleges that the defendants agreed to give the former alderman a no-work $5,000 a month consulting contract to curry favor with Madigan. The elder Zalewski was a close political ally of Madigan.
Carrie Zalewski told the Landmark that her decision to step down from the ICC had nothing to do with the ComEd trial.
Pritzker appointed Zalewski to the ICC in 2019 and quickly elevated her to lead it. Before serving on the ICC, Zalewski was a member of the Illinois Pollution Control Board for nine years.