Senate Bill Calls for Independent Investigations of Ethics Violations

By Jeremy Coumbes on October 30, 2019 at 2:16pm

An Illinois State Senator has introduced a measure intending to ensure independent investigations of ethics violations.

State Sen. Jason Barickman, a Republican representing the 53rd district, filed Senate Bill 2297 today, which would lessen current restrictions for the Legislative Inspector General (LIG) to conduct independent investigations of legislators.

Currently, except in cases alleging sexual harassment, the LIG must get advance approval from the Legislative Ethics Commission (LEC) before opening an investigation, or issuing subpoenas.

Additionally, if, during the investigation, the LIG discovers wrongdoing that is beyond the scope of, or unrelated to the initial complaint, they have to go back to the Ethics Commission to get approval to investigate further.

Under SB 2297, the Legislative Inspector General would be able to investigate complaints against legislators and issue subpoenas without approval from the Ethics Commission.

The proposed bill comes after Chicago Democratic Rep. Luis Arroyo was named this week in a federal bribery charge. Democratic State Sen. Martin Sandoval is currently under investigation for possible fraud involvement, and Democratic Senator Thomas Cullerton has been indicted for embezzlement.

The press release states that by taking legislators out of the process, the bill ensures independence in the investigation of these claims, and that Carol Pope, the current Legislative Inspector General has suggested this change be made on the past.

The Senate returns for the final week of the fall veto session on Tuesday, Nov. 12.