* Dan Petrella at the Tribune…
Last week, former Legislative Inspector General Julie Porter told a state ethics task force that the commission — a bipartisan panel of eight lawmakers from the Illinois House and Senate — blocked the release of a report in which she found “serious wrongdoing” by a sitting legislator. […]
Records from Legislative Ethics Commission meetings in May, obtained through an open-records request, show the panel considered a case in which the inspector general had determined someone violated a state law requiring lawmakers and legislative staff to cooperate with her investigations.
Porter’s testimony last week indicated that before leaving office in February 2019 she’d asked the attorney general’s office to bring a formal complaint before the commission. At a May 16 meeting, the commission considered a petition from the attorney general’s office. Democratic Sen. Terry Link of Vernon Hills made a motion to close the case, which was seconded by Democratic Rep. Kathleen Willis of Addison. The motion failed on a 4-4 vote, leaving the case open.
Due to a procedural problem with the initial vote, the issue came before the commission again eight days later. This time, Republican Rep. Norine Hammond of Macomb made a motion, seconded by Republican Rep. Avery Bourne of Raymond, to find that the complaint showed sufficient evidence that the law had been violated. There was another 4-4 vote, and this one resulted in the report remaining secret.
At the very least, the Legislative Ethics Commission needs a tie-breaking member. It’s too easy to just split these things on partisan lines to thwart progress and everyone winks at each other because they know the same result will likely happen when a member of their own party’s neck is on the line.
Some states have citizens on their commissions. That should be looked at here.
Yes, I know it’s easier said than done. Who is picked and how? OK, fine. Ask NCSL to a look at how other states do it and choose the best plan(s).
And, by the way, the same goes for the State Board of Elections. Too many tie votes on that board.