In the wake of multiple federal indictments of elected officials in both Springfield and Chicago, State Representative Deanne Mazzochi (R-Elmhurst) joined other Republican Caucus members to demand that the Illinois General Assembly use the remaining days of their veto session to enact much needed ethical reforms.
“Illinois government has been the poster child for pay to play politics for decades. We’ve had governors go to jail; and our current governor still remains under federal investigation. People are tired of a system where taxpayers don’t count, but insiders do. It’s even worse when those insiders exploit their office for their own personal gain.”
At a press conference this morning, Mazzochi and other lawmakers announced their intention to push a sweeping reform package during the final week of veto session to address unethical practices brought to light by ongoing federal investigations. “The recent spate of indictments shows clear loopholes and low hanging fruit that we can get done this week. But that is just the beginning; we also need to take a stand; say enough is enough; and start the process of rethinking our system so we can clean house from top to bottom,” Mazzochi explained.
State Representative Luis Arroyo (D-Chicago) recently resigned after he was arrested and charged with bribery of a state official. Rep. Arroyo is the third state legislator to come under the federal microscope this year. Earlier this year State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) was indicted on 45 counts of embezzlement and State Senator Martin Sandoval (D-Cicero) was revealed to be under investigation in a wide ranging federal corruption probe. Further, recently-indicted Chicago Alderman Ed Burke is married to Illinois’ Supreme Court Chief Justice. Governor J.B. Pritzker has been reported to be under investigation in connection with a $330,000 property tax scheme involving an Astor Place residence in Chicago.
“The resignation of one lawmaker does not address the cultural rot in Springfield,” Rep. Mazzochi said. “It is ridiculous that Rep. Arroyo apparently expected to lead the committee to appoint his replacement. It remains to be seen whether Speaker Madigan’s efforts to intervene in the process will lead to someone dedicated to real reform, or just another go along get along legislator. But it is clear that there are serious lapses in Illinois’ ethics laws. If we are to have any shot at earning public trust back, we need to take a stand and say enough is enough.”
Rep. Mazzochi continued, “There’s absolutely no reason why these bills can’t be considered by the House this week. But our caucus can talk about reform until we’re blue in the face; but unless and until House Democrats join us in this effort, our proposals are dead in the water. If this body has any integrity left, lawmakers need to show the people we represent that we are taking this seriously and that we are prepared to act.”
State lawmakers are scheduled to be in Springfield through Thursday. Once they adjourn on Thursday, they will not be back in Springfield until the new year.
The ethics package includes:
- House Bill 3954 that will revise statement of economic interests to include more details similar to the information required for judicial statement of economic interest forms. This forces full disclosure of potential conflicts of interest and provides greater transparency for members of the General Assembly.
- HJRCA 36 will require a special election to fill General Assembly vacancies through the same laws governing our party primaries. This will prevent political powerbrokers from picking their preferred candidates for the vacancies.
- House Resolution 588 will allow a Chief Co-Sponsor of any bill with five co-sponsors from each party to call it for an up or down vote in a substantive committee.
- House Bill 3947 would ban members of the General Assembly, their spouses, and immediate live-in family members from performing paid lobbying work with local government units. Currently, members of the Illinois General Assembly – state representatives and state senators – are prohibited from lobbying the State of Illinois, but are not prohibited from lobbying local government units, such as a counties or municipalities.
- House Bill 3955 will create mandatory and publicly available documentation of General Assembly communications with any state agency regarding contracts.