With a seemingly never-ending stream of news stories involving investigations and charges against Illinois lawmakers, State Senator Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington) is co-sponsoring a package of bills aimed at stopping corruption and making it easier to investigate wrong-doing.
“Illinois has a long and dark history of government corruption that shows no signs of stopping,” said Barickman. “These bills have two simple goals, to make it harder for elected officials to commit crimes, and to empower inspectors and investigators to root out those who continue to break the law.”
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, 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 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.
Barickman noted that he is optimistic that the General Assembly will take action on the legislation during the upcoming fall veto session.
“With recent news of the lobbying scandal involving ComEd and charges filed against lawmakers over other issues in recent months and years, it’s clear we need to take action now,” said Barickman. “We have time to take action right now to return accountability to state government and to help restore the people’s confidence in their elected officials.”