While the Illinois legislature may have taken a small step forward by passing ethics legislation in the spring, State Senator Darren Bailey (R-Louisville) says he’s afraid the state has taken another step back with the announcement of the Legislative Inspector General (LIG) Carol Pope’s resignation.
In her July 14 letter to the Legislative Ethics Commission (LEC), Pope stated her desire to bring about true ethics reform, and expressed her disappointment that her efforts were not as successful as she hoped.
“When I took this job as the Legislative Inspector General, I thought I might be able to make a difference working from the inside. I thought I could be useful in improving the public’s view of the legislature and help bring about true ethics reform. Unfortunately, I have not been able to do so. This last legislative session demonstrated true ethics reform is not a priority.”
Senator Bailey commends LIG Pope for taking a stand on the need for meaningful ethics reforms.
“Corruption runs deep in Illinois politics and it’s unfortunate that time after time, we continue to face roadblocks in our efforts to reform the state’s ethics laws,” said Senator Bailey. “This year, my colleagues and I sponsored several bills to help overhaul a broken system by curbing corruption and holding legislators accountable.”
Senator Bailey said Pope has held members of the General Assembly accountable on several occasions, including four founded reports of wrongdoing since 2018. Her diligent work has brought to light more wrongdoing during her tenure than any other LIG in Illinois history.
Members of the Senate have sponsored several reforms that LIG Pope has requested in the last year. The Ethics Committee Chair did not call these bills for a hearing.
SB 551 (Tracy): Amends the law to include more disclosure on Quarterly Reports filed by the Legislative Inspector General. Adds that the reports will include the total number of founded reports (currently complaints) forwarded to the Attorney General.
SB 1870 (Barickman): Amends the State Officials and Employees Ethics Act to allow the Legislative Inspector General to conduct investigations and issue subpoenas without the prior advance approval of the Legislative Ethics Commission.
SB 2529 (Plummer): Amends the State Officials and Employees Ethics Act so that the Legislative Inspector General shall not initiate any investigation without giving notice of the allegations involved to each member of the Legislative Ethics Commission. The Legislative Inspector General does not require the advance approval of the Commission to initiate any investigation, but the Legislative Inspector General shall not investigate matters that are beyond the scope of, or are unrelated to, the initial complaint upon which the investigation was founded, without the advance approval of the Commission.
SB 4014 (Curran, 101st GA): Amends the State Officials and Employees Ethics Act to:
- Allow the Legislative Inspector General (LIG) to commence an investigation without prior approval of the Legislative Ethics Commission (LEC);
- Allow the LIG to issue subpoenas without prior approval of the LEC;
- Add violations of the Governmental Ethics Act to the jurisdiction of the LEC and clarify the jurisdiction of the LIG is limited to acts relating to government service;
- Require that all members of the LEC be members of the public, not members of the General Assembly, former members of the General Assembly who have served in the last 10 years, lobbyists or political operatives.
“The root of the problem leads directly to the Governor and his Democratic cronies. We have lost the public’s trust in our state to do business and until substantive ethics reforms are passed, nothing will change,” concluded Senator Bailey.