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Van Pelt no longer co-sponsoring cannabis legalization bill

Thursday, May 16, 2019 - Posted by Rich Miller

* I told subscribers about this earlier today. She removed her own name from the sponsorship list. Here’s Mark Maxwell

Senator Patricia Van Pelt, a Chicago Democrat, has been removed as a co-sponsor of the bill to legalize recreational cannabis after a report revealed she was selling tickets to her get-rich-quick seminars where she offered investment tips on hot cannabis stocks.

Van Pelt is also listed as the President and co-founder of Wakanna, a company that currently sells essential oils but that has plans to sell cannabis products once the product is legal in Illinois. Van Pelt’s company is selling ownership stake to investors and offering them assurances that their license will be approved, although that licensing process has not yet been established, let alone completed.

Lawmakers addressed Van Pelt’s scheme during a debate in the Senate Executive Committee on Wednesday.

Senator Dale Righter, a Mattoon Republican, asked, “Is there anything in the bill that would give the public security that okay we don’t have insiders maneuvering this and that’s who’s winding up with the licenses?”

“I think you know that I’m committed to ethical safeguards as much as anyone here in the room,” Senator Heather Steans, a Chicago Democrat and lead sponsor of the plan to legalize cannabis answered. “To the extent that we don’t have this in here right now in the way we should, I very much look forward to working with you on the best ways of accomplishing that.” […]

“The public is watching us,” [Senator Righter] said. “The public has to have confidence in the people here, in the process here. When you see one of the members of the chamber clearly looking to cash in on a policy that she believes is going to happen, and then she is an insider in that policy, that is completely inappropriate.” […]

[Senate Majority Leader Kimberly Lightford] also cautioned against Van Pelt’s decision to sell tickets for admission to private events where she offers investment advice about an industry where lawmakers are sifting through sensitive, private information.

“I don’t think that’s a wise decision,” Lightford said, distancing herself from Van Pelt. “I don’t know that I support any of that, and I will look forward to having a conversation with her and learning about what it is that’s going on because I really don’t know. So I don’t have an opinion personally about her, I just think none of us should be engaged with any type of conversations such as that. We are here as lawmakers to pass the best law that we can that can have the best impact on our community, on our budget, and everything moving forward.

“We’re just trying to do our jobs. If there is a bad apple in the bunch, then that would be addressed.”


  1. - wordslinger - Thursday, May 16, 19 @ 3:00 pm:

    This just in…. Illinois senators make the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs distancing themselves from Van Pelt.

  2. - 47th Ward - Thursday, May 16, 19 @ 3:04 pm:

    So in Van Pelt’s case, marijuana could lead to ED, as in electoral dysfunction.

  3. - Bourbon Street - Thursday, May 16, 19 @ 3:13 pm:

    I wonder how Harry Truman would have phrased his comments about Van Pelt’s actions?

  4. - Red Skeptic - Thursday, May 16, 19 @ 3:36 pm:

    As others said, this is not a good look for the Senator or for IL politics.

    Are there more possible consequences in store for her? Seems like this kind of self dealing can’t be fixed soley by not being a sponsor. LIG maybe?

  5. - Generic Drone - Thursday, May 16, 19 @ 3:47 pm:

    I will try again w/o my disparraging remark. Do any of these professionals read the ethics test that they require from other employees

  6. - West Side the Best Side - Thursday, May 16, 19 @ 4:07 pm:

    Monitoring the Chicago City Council is probably a full time FBI job, but we do know from Blago they know where Springfield is.

  7. - Chicago Cynic - Thursday, May 16, 19 @ 5:06 pm:

    How do I put this and stay within limits. Anyone who is a Facebook friend of the Senator has seen a variety of questionable multi-level marketing and other get rich pitches. I’m surprised it took this long for these issues to see the light of day.

  8. - Chicagonk - Thursday, May 16, 19 @ 5:08 pm:

    @Generic Drone - It seems pretty clear to me that ethics is not Van Pelt’s strong suit.

  9. - Leslie K - Thursday, May 16, 19 @ 6:20 pm:

    Progress. But will she vote “present” on the bill? And Chicago Cynic points out this isn’t her first get rich quick pitch…I have to wonder what other bills she has sponsored or voted on that might benefit her side hustles.

  10. - Anonymous - Friday, May 17, 19 @ 4:14 am:

    The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

    Lightford became a co-sponsor *the day before* Van Pelt. But yeah, she’s probably clean as a whistle.

  11. - {Sigh} - Friday, May 17, 19 @ 7:26 am:

    She promotes CBD products on her social media pages. {Sigh} I wonder how she voted on the hemp bill and when exactly she became involved in CBD?

    Oh, wait. She was a co-sponsor of the hemp bill-

  12. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Friday, May 17, 19 @ 7:42 am:

    Well, Illinois could just ban all outside jobs and businesses for legislators and governors. That would be a fix. Then only millionaires and billionaires, or people paid by millionaires and billionaires, would run things.

  13. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Friday, May 17, 19 @ 7:47 am:

    ==The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.==

    Does that mean your children post embarrassing/scandalous comments anonymously too?

  14. - {Sigh} - Friday, May 17, 19 @ 8:04 am:

    =Well, Illinois could just ban all outside jobs and businesses for legislators and governors. That would be a fix. Then only millionaires and billionaires, or people paid by millionaires and billionaires, would run things.=

    {sigh} Well, they are supposed to recuse themselves when there is a conflict of interest. State employees have to disclose when they have second jobs & I believe there is an item on the economic interest statement. No need to ban outside jobs, if those legislators that push for reforms and transparency would be transparent too.

  15. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Friday, May 17, 19 @ 8:37 am:

    ==They are supposed to recuse themselves==

    Who is in charge of making sure legislators recuse themselves? Does it actually happen? Did all the legislators that have businesses or farms that hire people abstain from voting on the minimum wage bill? I didn’t notice many voting present on that bill.

  16. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Friday, May 17, 19 @ 8:47 am:

    Of the GA and the Senate only one person, Kifowit, voted present on the minimum wage bill 101-0001. She is a financial planner. So all the others didn’t recuse themselves.

  17. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Friday, May 17, 19 @ 9:24 am:

    Some legislators are farmers. Look at all the laws they vote on that directly affect farming. Should they recuse themselves every time? Do they? Farmers hate fracking because it pollutes the ground water they depend on, so should they recuse themselves of any law relating to fracking? What about any kind of employment law, (farmers hire people) banking law(farmers take out loans) environmental law (farms affect the environment) The farmer legislators might as well just stay home.

  18. - Rich Miller - Friday, May 17, 19 @ 9:53 am:

    ===Look at all the laws they vote on that directly affect farming===

    No, but if a farmer legislator was holding seminars about hemp stock investing while co-sponsoring the hemp regulation bill, that farmer would be in trouble.

  19. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Monday, May 20, 19 @ 10:18 am:

    One thing is for sure, InTouch Cuddle Therapy Snuggle Services will never be a source of conflict for legislators.

  20. - Do Over - Tuesday, May 21, 19 @ 7:22 pm:

    Let’s just scuttle this crap bill and redo it next year, preferably during primary season :)

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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