McDermed: Illinois Needs Ethics Task Force, Stricter Ethics Laws

Springfield, IL… At a press conference in Springfield, State Representative Margo McDermed (R-Mokena) joined lawmakers in demanding for ethics reform to restore the public trust amid sprawling federal corruption investigations throughout Illinois.

“Illinois has seen a rash of federal activity and while I’m pleased that the feds are making headway in cracking down on public corruption, it is a sad state of affairs that it got to this point in the first place,” Rep. McDermed said. Just this week, State Representative Luis Arroyo (D-Chicago) was arrested and charged with bribery of a state official. In just the past few months 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 that has resulted in a number of search warrants taken out against local government bodies and businesses.

“It is no wonder that constituents express to me that they don’t expect the General Assembly to act in their best interest or the best interest of their families when so many of our members are engaging in such self-serving conduct,” Rep. McDermed continued. “We don’t have to accept these recent federal investigations and charges as ‘business as usual’ in Illinois.”  

Filed on October 24th, House Joint Resolution 87 would create a nine-member task force charged with identifying areas of concern, reviewing current laws, studying best practices, and proposing additional legislative solutions to ensure Illinois is holding public officials accountable for their actions. It would be composed of a member of the Governor’s staff or the Lt. Governor, along with two legislative members appointed by each of the four caucus leaders. The task force would have ninety days to issue a report recommending legislative changes to Illinois’ ethics policy and law.

“This task force is crucial to reestablishing public trust in the Illinois General Assembly and state government as a whole,” Rep. McDermed continued. “We must hold ourselves and our fellow members accountable.”

Rep. McDermed is also the co-sponsor of House Bill 361, a bill to significantly increase the punishments and fines faced by legislators who engage in restricted activities or violate the legislator rules of conduct. “As has been the case with ethics bills in the past, HB 361 was unfairly sent to die in a subcommittee and never given its proper due in the House, despite the fact that it’s clear that the current punishments are not enough to deter wrongdoing by legislators,” Rep. McDermed said. “We’re down here in Springfield for veto session, there should be nothing stopping us from passing HJR 87 to address the plague of corruption in Illinois. The time for my fellow legislators to step up and say no to corruption is now.”