Stewart: Partisan games leave Legislature without ethics watchdog

SPRINGFIELD – Six months of partisan games by legislative Democrats have stalled the process of selecting a new Legislative Inspector General and left Illinois without a much-needed ethics watchdog for state lawmakers, according to State Sen. Brian Stewart (R-Freeport).

January 6 is the last day that outgoing Legislative Inspector General (LIG) Carol Pope will be in office to perform her official duties. Following today, the Office and its staff will be empty, leaving complaints of wrongdoing unanswered and uninvestigated.

Pope announced on July 14, 2021, that she would resign that post on Dec. 15, 2021, calling the LIG Office a “paper tiger” after a bill passed earlier in 2021 did not create meaningful ethics reform in Illinois. After an impasse within the Legislative Ethics Commission (LEC) to fill the vacant LIG position, Pope agreed to stay on through Jan. 6, 2022.

“As a member of the Legislative Ethics Commission that has been working for months to find a new Legislative Inspector General, I am fed up with the games being played by Democrat members of the Commission. They want to do it their own way but they do not have sufficient votes. So they stall and stall. It is ridiculous,” Stewart said. “There is a process in place for this task, but Democrat members have used stalling tactics to push for a candidate that was not recommended by the LEC’s Search Committee. Not following the Committee’s recommendation makes it look like lawmakers want to police themselves and hand-pick their ethics watchdog.”

Stewart also noted that is it important to further empower the LIG – once a replacement is named – to root out corruption in the General Assembly. He supports legislation (Senate Bill 3030) being introduced by LEC Chair State Sen. Jil Tracy of Quincy to make important changes in the way the LEC processes ethics complaints against state lawmakers.

Senate Bill 3030 will:

  • Require LEC meetings to be open to the public, and have the meetings publicly posted;
  • No longer allow elected officials to serve as members of the LEC; and
  • Provide the LIG with subpoena power to investigate ethics complaints against members of the Illinois General Assembly.

 

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