DECATUR — Attorney general candidate and former governor Pat Quinn, known for elaborate public messages over the decades to draw attention to Illinois political issues, on Monday made a campaign stop in Decatur to bang the drum on a familiar Quinn topic: keeping utility companies in check.
In the pouring rain outside Decatur's Ameren Illinois offices, the Democrat called for big utility companies to reimburse customers based on smaller federal tax bills for corporations that arose in Washington in December.
"Ameren and other big utilities owe it to their ratepayers to return the windfall they got from Donald Trump's corporate tax breaks," said Quinn, who lost re-election to GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner in 2014.
Tucker Kennedy, a spokesman for Ameren Illinois, said the company approached the Illinois Commerce Commission about passing on savings from the tax cut to customers as quickly as possible.
"We're passing the entirety of the (corporate tax rate cuts) back to our customers starting March," Kennedy said.
Quinn is facing a crowded field of seven candidates in the Democratic primary race to become the chief legal officer in the state. Election Day for all primary races in Illinois is March 20, and early voting has already started.
Republicans in Congress and President Donald Trump slashed corporate tax rates from 35 percent to 21 percent in December, effective this year.
In January the company said it filed a petition with the Illinois Commerce Commission to pass savings to customers as a result of the new corporate tax rate. Kennedy said that filling was approved Feb. 6.
Ameren Illinois electric customers will save an average of $2.50 to $3.00 per month in 2018.
Quinn pushed his credentials on Monday as an activist for utility consumers, going back to 1984, when he helped form the Citizen Utility Board.
Quinn is running against Scott Drury, Sharon Fairly, Aaron Goldstein, Renato Mariotti, Kwame Raoul, Nancy Rotering and Jesse Ruiz in the primary. The GOP candidates are Gary Grasso and Erika Harold.
"There's 29 days to go until the election, 58 if you don't sleep, so I'm not planning to sleep," Quinn said.
In his decades of involvement in state politics, Quinn has served as governor, state treasurer and lieutenant governor. If he was successfully elected to attorney general, Quinn would have served in four out six state constitutional offices.
"The attorney general to me should not be political, you should always be on the sides of taxpayers and consumers, and call them as you them," Quinn said.
Incumbent Lisa Madigan, a Democrat, is not running for a fifth term.