McHenry, IL. – The Illinois General Assembly is in need of ethics reforms to root out corruption and the time to act is long overdue, according to State Sen. Craig Wilcox.
Sen. Wilcox is joining his Senate Republican colleagues in supporting a package of legislation, seven proposals in all, which focuses on enhancing investigative authority within existing laws and ensuring legislators are serving the public’s interest.
“For years, the people of Illinois have mostly been treated to lip-service when it comes to ending corruption. It’s long past the time for real action, as evident by the fact that many of our proposals are ideas that have been supported in the past by lawmakers from both parties,” said Wilcox (R-McHenry). “But, after a number of legislator indictments and resignations and investigations, it’s time to take real action.”
Senate Republicans say while ethics laws are in place, 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 Legislative Ethics Commission to make them all members of the general public rather than legislators.
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.
During the past year, four legislators have been indicted, some have resigned and another one is under investigation by federal authorities.
“We need action now. The people of Illinois deserve honest government, so there’s no reason to delay acting on a clearly persistent problem under the Capitol Dome,” said Wilcox.