Some lawmakers say ethics bill falls short

(The Center Square) – Some Republican lawmakers are calling on Gov. J.B. Pritzker to veto an ethics reform bill headed to his desk.

The bill is aimed at preventing lawmakers from lobbying other units of government and interrupting the so-called “revolving door” of lawmakers leaving and later returning to lobby the General Assembly.

The Illinois legislature has been the focus of a broad federal corruption probe that has snagged four state lawmakers and also has implicated former House Speaker Michael Madigan in a patronage and bribery scandal. Madigan has said he did nothing wrong. He has not been charged with a crime.

“No nothing bill in the legislature,” said state Rep. Adam Niemerg, R-Dieterich. “It doesn’t really tackle the culture of corruption that we need to tackle here in the state of Illinois, and it is really unfortunate.”

The new ethics bill bars the Legislative Inspector General from investigating anything that isn’t a violation of the Illinois Governmental Ethics Act or other laws “related to the member’s or employee’s public duties.”

Legislative Inspector General Carol Pope recently resigned, stating the last legislative session demonstrated true ethics reform is not a priority.

State Rep. Dan Caulkins, R-Decatur, said Pope’s resignation is an affirmation of the lack of serious ethics reform efforts in Springfield.

“I think the problem we have is that this bill has been exposed for what it is and the five of us who voted against it are kind of vindicated,” Caulkins said.

The five lawmakers who voted against the bill are calling on lawmakers from both sides of the aisle to work on serious ethics reforms, such as giving the LIG more independence, increasing the time after serving in the General Assembly that someone can register as a lobbyist and nonpartisan citizen representation on the Legislative Ethics Commission.

Pritzker has said the ethics reform bill headed for his desk does some good things, but he would like to see more.

On the first full day that Pritzker announced he would be running for reelection last week, he indicated he would sign the bill into law.

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