After failing to enact meaningful ethics reform in the Illinois House of Representatives during special session this week, House Republican lawmakers are urging a new, bipartisan effort to accomplish true ethics reform for the statehouse.
State Representatives Avery Bourne (R-Morrisonville), Ryan Spain (R-Peoria), and Mike Marron (R-Fithian) issued a letter Wednesday to House Ethics and Elections Committee Chair Kelly Burke (D-Evergreen Park) asking her to facilitate a new working group after the bill she sponsored, SB539, failed to earn enough votes to accept the Governor’s amendatory veto.
Amid the ongoing federal investigations and indictments infiltrating the General Assembly, House Republicans have pushed for stronger ethics legislation to prevent any future corruption from plaguing the statehouse. Yet, after the resignation of Legislative Inspector General Carol Pope, it became clear SB 539 did not go far enough. We need a bill to not only empower the legislative watchdog, but also close gaping loopholes in current laws to ensure the people of Illinois can be confident in their government.
Repeated calls by House Republicans urging Governor Pritzker to utilize his amendatory veto power to create this change went ignored. This is an increasingly common trend with over three dozen meaningful Republican ethics bills remaining in the Rules committee today.
“We can do so much more to reform our ethics laws, and I see this as opportunity to do just that,” said Rep. Bourne, who spearheaded the initial push for an amendatory veto. “We can work together to close loopholes and prevent further corruption—and we have to do that to instill public trust back in our government. Governor Pritzker chose to give cover to unaccountable politicians and made his priorities clear: he’d rather side with corrupt politicians than with the Illinoisans who demand we clean up state government.”
The vote Tuesday night on SB539 failed to earn even 60 votes from lawmakers in the Illinois House, making it clear the majority of the legislature couldn’t accept this as a real ethics reform measure.
“We cannot wait another year to pass meaningful ethics reform in Illinois,” said Assistant Republican Leader Ryan Spain. “Window-dressing reform is insufficient against the kind of systemic corruption we’ve seen in Illinois. Democrats will be abdicating their duty to the people of Illinois if they leave town again without passing meaningful ethics reform.”
For House Republicans, necessary ethics reform includes expanding the jurisdiction of the LIG, allowing subpoena power for the office of the LIG, pairing the jurisdiction of the LIG and Legislative Ethics Commission, and increasing the vote threshold to a supermajority to block the publication of a report.
“Running an ethical and transparent government is not hard, but unraveling decades of status quo will be a major challenge,” said Rep. Marron. My hope for this committee is to collaborate with all the stakeholders addressing the root cause of ethics violations found in Springfield and create good, bi-partisan legislation to remedy these issues. It is obviously time to find real solutions on government accountability, but I don’t think we will find the answers until we collaborate and work together.”