Stronger ethics reforms needed to put a stop to political corruption in Illinois

Springfield – On the final day of the fall veto session, the Illinois House of Representatives passed several ethics reform measures that do not fully address concerns over recent federal indictments and ongoing political corruption in Illinois.

State Representative Dan Caulkins (R-Decatur) supported the ethics reform measures, but indicated that stronger reforms are needed to put a stop to the culture of corruption.

“The Democrat majority filed legislation in the middle of the night in a last-minute attempt to provide cover for their members, while refusing to take any votes on our ethics reform package that was introduced weeks, and in some cases, months ago,” Rep. Caulkins said. “The legislation passed today should only be considered a small, first step on the path to ending political corruption in our state. While I reluctantly supported these watered-down bills, much more needs to be done to clean up the mess in Springfield.”

House Joint Resolution 93 creates the Joint Commission on Ethics and Lobbying Reform to review Illinois’ ethics laws and lobbyist registration requirements. The Democrats’ resolution postpones the final report of the Commission until March 31, 2020, after the Primary Election.

Senate Bill 1639 requires lobbyists to disclose if they are elected officials, if they lobby a local government that requires registration, and requires the disclosure of who a sub-registrant lobbyist is hired to help lobby.

“I find it rather disheartening that legislation needed to bring sunshine and transparency to the process was filed under the cover of night, giving legislators and the public little time to review or ask questions about these watered-down reforms,” Caulkins said. “I am calling on Speaker Madigan and the Democrat majority to bring us back into special session to fully debate and vote on our ethics reform package, which contains much stronger reforms with real teeth to them. After recent revelations of federal investigations and indictments against current and recently resigned legislators, we must do more to restore the public’s trust in our government.”

Representative Caulkins is co-sponsoring several ethics reform bills that would ban legislators from lobbying local governments, require more extensive disclosure of economic interests and potential conflicts of interest, and enhance criminal and financial penalties for elected officials who break ethics laws.