Indictments, charges, and investigations into state legislators continue to make headlines, today members of the Senate Republican Caucus have introduced a package of bills seeking to root out government corruption among members of the General Assembly.
The legislative package focuses on two main objectives: enhancing investigative authority within existing laws and ensuring legislators are serving the public’s interest.
While Illinois already has some strong anti-corruption laws in place, Senate Republicans say many of them are rendered toothless because the appropriate authorities aren’t given adequate ability to investigate wrongdoing.
To address these shortcomings, the legislative package proposes the following enhancements:
- Senate Bill 4012: Allows the Attorney General to impanel a statewide grand jury to investigate, indict and prosecute bribery and misconduct by members of the General Assembly.
- Senate Bill 4013: Provides states attorneys with wiretap authority.
- Senate Bill 4014: Grants the Legislative Inspector General the ability to investigate members of the General Assembly without first receiving approval from the Legislative Ethics Commission, and changes the composition of the Legisla
tive Ethics Commission to make them all members of the general public rather than legislators.
“Within the last year, a number of legislators have been indicted, and another is currently under investigation,” said State Senator Sue Rezin (R-Morris). “During that same time period, the General Assembly hasn’t had a single ethics reform bill passed into law.”
The Senate Republican anti-corruption legislative package also includes measures to ensure that legislators serve the public’s interest and not their own pocketbooks. Proposals include:
- Senate Bill 4015: Bans legislators from lobbying other branches of state government or units of local government for compensation.
- Senate Bill 4016: Creates a revolving door legislator-to-lobbyist prohibition for one year after leaving office, or until the end of the current term, whichever is longer.
- Senate Bill 4017: Prohibits a legislator from leaving office and continuing to use their campaign fund to support lobbying activities. Also prevents an appointee to a board or commission that is confirmed by the Senate from fundraising for or donating from their campaign committee while serving as an appointed public official.
- Senate Bill 4018: Updates the Statement of Economic Interests to enhance the disclosure of potential conflicts of interest.
“These proposals aren’t new ideas. Every year we introduce bills that are meant to deal with corruption, and every year they go nowhere in the General Assembly. Ethics reform shouldn’t be difficult; this isn’t rocket science. Other states have been able to past reforms, yet Democrats can’t seem to find a way to do the same in Illinois.”