SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WAND) – Illinois lawmakers are championing a bipartisan bill looking for ethics reform after recent scandals surfaced. According to State Sen. Ann Gillespie (D-Arlington Heights), who talked about “glaring corruption” being an issue in Illinois, said Senate Bill 539 would end loopholes allowing “bad actors” to game the system. In a Monday evening
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WAND) – Illinois lawmakers are championing a bipartisan bill looking for ethics reform after recent scandals surfaced.
According to State Sen. Ann Gillespie (D-Arlington Heights), who talked about “glaring corruption” being an issue in Illinois, said Senate Bill 539 would end loopholes allowing “bad actors” to game the system. In a Monday evening press conference, she said the legislation would make the following changes:
- Empowers legislative inspector general to investigate allegations of corruption.
- Bans elected officials from lobbying units of government in the service of businesses or organizations that lobby them in their official capacity statewide.
- Prohibits working as a consultant to avoid appearance of being a lobbyist or avoid having to register with the Illinois Secretary of State’s Office.
- Only allows pay for the days a legislator actually works when they resign. Previously, a lawmaker who resigned on the first day of a month would be paid for the full month.
- Creates a clearer, more streamlined disclosure system.
- Bans fundraisers statewide during legislative sessions and on days right before and after.
Gillespie is backing this bill alongside State Sen. John Curran (R-Downers Grove), who both talked in the press conference.
“As chair of the ethics committee, my goal has always been to rebuild trust in government,” Gillespie said. “I believe this bill is a real opportunity to make meaningful change and other specific solutions to the recent scandals that we’ve seen under the dome.”
One such scandal would be the ComEd bribery scandal, which implicated former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan. A federal indictment claimed Madigan and someone acting on his behalf tried to “obtain for others private jobs, contracts and monetary payments, including from Commonwealth Edison, the largest electric utility in Illinois, to influence and reward the Speaker in the Speaker’s official capacity.”
ComEd agreed to pay $200 million in fines after admitting it arranged jobs and payments for Madigan, who was named as “Public Official A” in a differed prosecution agreement, while Madigan himself has denied any wrongdoing. He resigned in 2021 after 50 years in office.
In addition, former Madigan chief of staff Tim Mapes has been indicted for allegedly making false declarations before a grand jury and obstructing justice when he testified in relation to the ComEd scandal.
Four others were indicted on charges of bribery conspiracy, bribery, and willfully falsifying ComEd Books and records. They included Madigan confident and former ComEd lobbyist Michael McClain, 73, former ComEd chief executive officer Anne Pramaggiore, 72, former vice president of external affairs and eternal lobbyist for ComEd John Hooker, 71, and Jay Doherty, 67, who performed consulting services for ComEd.
Curran said in the press conference the changes will hold elected officials to higher ethical standards.
“Let’s face it, with the indictments brought forward in the last several years, the people of Illinois continue to lose faith and trust in their government,” Curran said. “We are well past the point where we can just point to those who have betrayed their oath of office and not move forward with ethical reforms.”
Curran said he and colleagues on the other side of the aisle can keep working toward the common goal of ethics reform. Gillespie noted this will not be the last ethics-related bill in Illinois.
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