Sen. Wilcox: Stop Ignoring Corruption

McHenry, IL. – Ethical lapses and corruption in government have huge costs in economic terms and cause damage to confidence in government. Incredibly, despite Illinois’ recent bout with corruption, the Joint Commission on Ethics and Lobbying Reform seems to be in a holding pattern of inaction, according to State Sen. Craig Wilcox.

“I join my Republican legislative colleagues calling for the Commission to resume its work immediately,” said Wilcox (R-McHenry). “We are long past the time for taking the ethics/corruption issue seriously.”

Four Republican members of the Commission held a news conference Monday to draw attention to the lack of meetings, despite the opportunity online technologies are providing during the COVID-19 outbreak that has all but shut down meeting in person.

Sen. Wilcox adds that within the last year, four Illinois Democrat legislators were indicted on charges ranging from bribery to ghost payrolling and federal tax evasion, and the state’s largest utility – Commonwealth Edison – was charged with and admitted to a bribery scheme to influence the Speaker of the House. Meanwhile, Federal prosecutors have issued multiple grand jury subpoenas aimed at Michael Madigan, including one to the Speaker’s office. 

“There are two 2019 studies detailing the extent of political corruption in Illinois,” said Wilcox. “One, by researchers at the University of Illinois-Chicago, ranked Illinois as the third-most corrupt state, and Chicago as the most corrupt big city in the nation. A second study by a professor at the University of Illinois’ Gies College of Business also outlined the huge costs of public corruption to employers that have to operate within a culture of public corruption.” 

The Illinois Policy Institute (IPI) published a separate economic analysis in 2019 estimating the state economy loses more than $500 million a year to public corruption. IPI looked at data between the years 2000 and 2017.

“The Joint Commission on Ethics and Lobbying Reform must resume its meetings and continue its important work,” said Wilcox. “I would also favor reconvening the General Assembly to take up and pass meaningful ethics reforms as soon as possible. We shouldn’t wait until veto session in mid-November. Corruption undermines the public’s trust in government, and continued inaction only further erodes that trust. It’s long past time to act.” 

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