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Monday, January 27, 2020

Senate GOP Caucus weighs ethics legislation in wake of corruption charges

State Government

By Kyla Asbury | Nov 9, 2019

Illinois state Sen. Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington)

The Illinois Senate Republican Caucus recently held a press conference to discuss ethics legislation filed last week.

State Sen. Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington) said that recent events, namely an ongoing federal corruption probe that has resulted in two state Democrats stepping down from high-profile government roles, reminded the public that the Illinois General Assembly is unable to police itself.

"It looks like the fox is guarding the henhouse and that needs to end," Barickman said at the press conference. "The legislative inspector general (LIG) must be independent. We can do this by giving two important powers to the office of the legislative inspector general."

Barickman said the LIG should be empowered to conduct investigations without obtaining approval from the legislature and she should be given subpoena powers and not required to ask the General Assembly for those powers.

"This would empower the legislative inspector general to go where an investigation leads and us not be in the way," Barickman said. "This will begin to restore the public’s trust."

State senator Jil Tracy (R-Mount Sterling) said the current system is politicians policing other politicians.

"We are proposing to take politicians out of that," Tracy said. "The purpose is to give power to the legislative inspector general and restore the public’s confidence."

Barickman filed Senate Bill 2297, which amends the State Officials and Employees Ethics Act, last Wednesday. Upon passage, the act would go into effect immediately.

"These aren’t new ideas," Barickman said. "They’ve been discussed at length. We have filed Senate Bill 2297 and I am calling on the senate president to consider and hear upon this legislation. It’s not just about whether or not the ethics commission provides the approval to proceed. It’s the impact that step of the process has on whistleblowers."

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