* Sen. Karen Mcconnaughay…
As a member of the Legislative Ethics Commission, I’ve been frustrated with the fact that no Inspector General has been appointed despite candidates’ names to take that role having been submitted. Nonetheless, the recent public exposure of accusations about disturbing behavior by a State Senator has led to even more concerns about the methods and means under which this important Commission operates.
Today, my worst fears became reality when I found out that committee members have had important information withheld about allegations that go far beyond one individual.
As late as this week, and after repeated inquiries by myself and others, members were assured that there were “no pending cases” before the Ethics Commission. Today, I discovered that staff is, in reality, holding up to 27 separate complaints against members of the Illinois General Assembly, and have used the fact that no Inspector General has been named as the reason there are—technically—no pending cases since it only becomes a “case” when it is reviewed by the Inspector General.
Upon discovering the fact that files containing serious accusations have been withheld from the Commission, I placed a call to Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office to inform them of the situation and ask for guidance on how we can pursue a remedy. I have also formally asked Commission Chair State Senator Terry Link to convene an emergency meeting as soon as plausible to put this situation on the table to be resolved.
Since joining the General Assembly in 2013, I have never witnessed a more serious abuse of the public’s trust, and firmly believe that the only way to fix this is by exposing what really goes on in these matters to the public. Please note that many of my colleagues were kept in the dark as well, and this information about possible ethics violations is controlled by a small handful of people who must now explain to taxpayers why the information was withheld, who directed them to do so, and all other pertinent details.
We will not get past these problems until full public disclosure takes place, and it must start NOW.
* And, once again, keep in mind this claim from just last week…
(T)he office of the state’s legislative inspector general sits empty. The Legislative Ethics Commission’s executive director, Randy Erferd, attends only to the group’s administrative needs and did not return calls for comment by publication.
Despite this, $312,500 were appropriated for the Office of the Legislative Inspector General in this year’s budget. The same amount was appropriated in 2013, 2014, 2015, and for the 2016-2017 year. A total of $1,875,000 million has been appropriated for an office which has not been occupied and to pay for a staff which doesn’t exist. […]
“We haven’t found an appropriate person but I want to hasten to add that there have been no reports of ethics violations during that period of time so it’s not like there’s something that hasn’t been done,” [Rep. Lou Lang] said.
*** UPDATE *** I missed this yesterday, but Speaker Madigan read out the number of complaints filed in the past few years during the committee’s question and answer period…
[ *** End Of Update *** ]
2015: 15 complaints