House Republicans Renew Call for Ethics Reforms

As the tangled web of Democrats’ corruption continues to unwind over and over in federal court, Illinois House Republicans have renewed calls for needed ethics reforms. The list of convictions continues to pile up, and the silence from the Democrat side of the aisle is deafening. 

In 2023 alone, federal prosecutors in Chicago have secured the following convictions:

  • Four former Commonwealth Edison employees were convicted on charges of conspiring to bribe former House Speaker Mike Madigan to guide and pass ComEd’s legislative agenda.
  • Former Madigan Chief of Staff Tim Mapes was convicted of lying to a grand jury in an effort to prevent the bribery investigation into the former Speaker.
  • Chicago businessman James T. Weiss was convicted and sentenced to five-plus years in prison for bribing two Democratic state lawmakers, wire and mail fraud, and lying to the FBI.
  • And just days before Christmas, former Chicago Democratic Alderman Edward Burke, a member of the City Council for 54 years, was convicted of racketeering, bribery, and attempted extortion after an historic corruption trial that was over five years in the making.

In addition, Madigan, the longest serving state House speaker in modern U.S. history, was indicted on federal racketeering and bribery charges in March 2022. He was set to stand trial in federal court in April 2024, but the trial has been pushed back to October 8, 2024. 

“Since taking office, I have sponsored legislation that would significantly change our ethics laws to target corruption and self-dealing under the Capitol dome,” Rep. Patrick Windhorst (R-Metropolis) stated. “From shutting down an investigative committee into Madigan’s corruption, to failing to hold task force meetings, to leaving meaningful ethics reform measures to languish in the infamous Rules Committee, House Democrats have expressed no willingness so far to change the culture of corruption in Illinois.”

Several Illinois politicians were hit with corruption and misconduct charges in 2022, and indictments and sentences were included. In 2022, Illinois was ranked as the second-most corrupt state in the nation due to the elevated number of ethics complaints

Rep. Ryan Spain (R-Peoria) is taking action to root out and punish corrupt politicians. He has sponsored legislation to finally give the Inspector General’s Office subpoena power without having to ask legislative permission. Spain has co-sponsored bills to ban indicted officeholders from getting pension benefits and ban indicted politicians from using campaign funds for legal defense purposes.

“Unless and until action is finally taken, poor ethical behavior will still be the norm in Illinois government under the thumb of Illinois Democrats, as the ‘Madigan Way’ is still their guiding light,” stated Spain. “It has to stop now.”

Illinois House Republicans are taking action to address corruption and create stronger ethics reforms. Ethics proposals filed by Republicans include:

  • House Bill 4119 – Prohibits elected officials from using political campaign donations to pay for criminal defense. 
  • House Bill 1277 – Benefit or annuity payments to a member or participant in a retirement system or pension fund shall be suspended if the member or participant is charged with a felony. 
  • House Bill 4286 – Provides for a three-year revolving door ban on lobbying. 
  • House Bill 4288 – Requires the Executive and Legislative Ethics Commissions to make reports available within 60 days of receipt. 
  • House Bill 4289 – Amends the Lobbyist Registration Act to expand the definition of “officials” to include more positions at the local level and expands the definition of “lobbying.”

“Illinois has weak ethics laws and House Republicans have been pushing for significant reforms for years,” stated Rep. Tony McCombie (R-Savanna). “Democrats’ complacency with the status quo continues to cheat and take advantage of Illinois families by the very government who says it is there to protect them. House Republicans have filed common sense proposals and are more than willing to have bipartisan discussions to close loopholes and enhance penalties for those who violate the public’s trust.”