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Question of the day

Monday, Jun 30, 2014

* Former state Rep. Tom Homer is retiring after a decade as the state legislature’s inspector general. He sat down for an interview with the AP. This excerpt revolves around a 2003 ethics reform law that banned large gifts for legislators among many other things

Since he took the legislature’s inspector general job in 2004, Homer has fielded 163 formal complaints, referring 11 to federal or state law enforcement authorities. Some of those ended in criminal convictions, although the law doesn’t allow him to talk about specific cases. […]

[The 2003 law] also created the Legislative Ethics Commission, a board of eight Senate and House members, four named by legislative leaders from each party, who must vote to approve the inspector general’s investigations and any decision to publish disciplinary action. A case in which a legislative staff member is suspended for at least three days is automatically published, but there’s no provision for suspending a lawmaker.

If a legislator is fined, it technically should be published, but Homer has been unsuccessful in getting the commission to approve fines against any lawmakers.

Q: As legislators, do you think commission members feel a need to protect their own?

A: “I have a very high regard for each of them. I think sometimes they’re put in an untenable position, the way it’s constituted. They’re there at the appointment of the leader.

“We have the ability to fine, but the ability to censure or reprimand is the sanction that’s missing here. They have that in the Congress and that’s probably the most potent tool that you can have.”

* The Question: Should the Legislative Inspector General be given the legal right to recommend that the Legislative Ethics Commission censure or reprimand state legislators? Take the poll and then explain your answer in comments, please.


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- Posted by Rich Miller        


17 Comments
  1. - Rich Miller - Monday, Jun 30, 14 @ 12:26 pm:

    Obviously, this is a slam dunk issue so people don’t feel the need to comment.

    However, I’m not gonna post another story here until we get some comments on this question. Thanks!

    lol


  2. - Just Me - Monday, Jun 30, 14 @ 12:28 pm:

    Comment


  3. - Stones - Monday, Jun 30, 14 @ 12:30 pm:

    Absolutely, esp. since the censure or reprimand is a recommendation. Sad to see Tom Homer go - a class act.


  4. - Rich Miller - Monday, Jun 30, 14 @ 12:30 pm:

    LOL

    Not enough.


  5. - a drop in - Monday, Jun 30, 14 @ 12:42 pm:

    Recommend, yes. But that won’t go far at all. The silence after any recommendation will be deafening. For reference, see what kind of power Chicago’s IG has.


  6. - Precinct Captain - Monday, Jun 30, 14 @ 12:45 pm:

    I voted yes because the legislature or the ethics commission could vote not to accept the recommendation. Would the ILGA vote to reprimand or censure? I think not considering that LEC hasn’t accepted any of Homer’s fines.


  7. - G'Kar - Monday, Jun 30, 14 @ 12:53 pm:

    I voted yes simply because it is the right thing to do. One question though, if you have 8 members, 4 from each party, how do you keep it from simply becoming political and every vote along party lines to protect their own?


  8. - Jeff Trigg - Monday, Jun 30, 14 @ 1:05 pm:

    I favor free speech over allowing internal government secrecy. Perhaps we should censure and reprimand those that wrote the part of this law that forbids Mr. Homer from discussing specific cases after they’ve been resolved. A public airing might help prevent future legislator abuses.


  9. - Plutocrat03 - Monday, Jun 30, 14 @ 1:10 pm:

    Ten years and 163 complaints?

    I wonder how many dollars sit cost to process 1.5 complaints per month?

    It’s not like Illinois is lacking ethically challenged legislators…..


  10. - walker - Monday, Jun 30, 14 @ 1:10 pm:

    Not sure. Sounds good on the surface, but not sure it’s workable. Is it meant to be public shaming, provided members from both parties agree to do it? Referring to federal and state law enforcement, for further investigation, has real teeth.


  11. - A guy... - Monday, Jun 30, 14 @ 1:10 pm:

    I honestly voted “no” for the moment. I’d be a strong “yes” for the future. We’ve got to fix some things in order for this to work as it was intended. Mr. Homer’s brief comments speak volumes about the need. He retires not being able to affect the change he wanted because our current mess down in the State Capitol acts as an enemy even to good policy. I badly wanted to vote yes and couldn’t.


  12. - Modest proposal - Monday, Jun 30, 14 @ 1:15 pm:

    I’ll bite. I voted in the minority on this one. On paper it seems like a great idea, but as gkar mentioned it seems like it has the possibility of getting political. I see it being political, not useful. So I voted no.


  13. - VanillaMan - Monday, Jun 30, 14 @ 1:18 pm:

    No. The entire scenario has been an exercise in failure when considering how much corruption is in our state. They have been like a blind bank guard handcuffed to their post.


  14. - Anon - Monday, Jun 30, 14 @ 2:50 pm:

    == I favor free speech over allowing internal government secrecy…A public airing might help prevent future legislator abuses. ==

    What about an investigation that finds no wrongdoing? Should that be publcized, knowing much of the public takes “under investigation” as tantamount to a guilty plea. I’d say no.


  15. - Sunshine - Monday, Jun 30, 14 @ 3:06 pm:

    Seems that only strong, enforceable ethics legislation will bring out the honesty in our elected office holders.

    Unfortunately the fox is the one voting for rules regarding the hen house.


  16. - Chicago Cynic - Monday, Jun 30, 14 @ 6:47 pm:

    Oh please. The man couldn’t get even a fine against legislators so what’s the point. Homer was singularly ineffective - either because he was unwilling or unable to be aggressive. Compare the situation in Chicago when you had a lapdog IG replaced by David Hoffman and then Ferguson.


  17. - Capo - Monday, Jun 30, 14 @ 11:36 pm:

    Some of these so called independent I.G.’s aren’t so independent. Voted No.


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