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Illinois legislative ethics commission under fire for neglecting complaints

SPRINGFIELD (Heartland Newsfeed) — The ethics commission that oversees the Illinois General Assembly has been hit with a complaint for neglecting to follow through with their duties for years, with the question being, “Who’s going to investigate them?”

A complaint was filed with the Illinois Legislative Ethics Commission and Inspector General Julie Porter on Wednesday by anti-violence advocate Denise Rotheimer, citing that the eight-lawmaker commission broke state statute by failing to appoint an acting legislative inspector general for three years, leaving dozens of complaints unaddressed.

“To allow for that vacancy to remain for three years shows that they are not serious about having these complaints investigated,” Rotheimer said in a statement Thursday.

Illinois state law dictates that the Commission “shall designate an Acting Legislative Inspector General who shall serve until the vacancy is filled.”

Several state lawmakers are cited in Rotheimer’s complaint: Sen. Terry Link (D-Vernon Hills), Rep. Norine Hammond (R-Macomb), Sen. Cristina Castro​ (D-Elgin), Rep. Chad Hays (R-Catlin), Sen. Michael Connelly (R-Lisle), Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie), Sen. Karen McConnaughay (R-St. Charles) and Rep. Arthur Turner (D-Chicago).

During the three-year vacancy, complaints in the dozens piled up, with Porter recently telling the commission that only ten of the complaints were valid. Porter further recommended that one of those complaints be disregarded, as the accused lawmaker is no longer in office.

Rep. Hays heatedly chastised another commission member during an Illinois House floor debate about some of the new ethics laws passed, for citing that the commission and its members never made any recommendations for an interim legislative inspector general. Hays added that names were submitted for the post, but no action was made by either party.

“Why should I feel as though they would take my complaint seriously if they allowed that position to remain vacant for three years?” Rotheimer questioned.

Complaints are typically handled in anonymity to protect all involved individuals on both sides of the complaint, but Rotheimer has foregone that in hopes of shedding more light on a process that has been heavily criticized as ineffective and riddled with conflicts of interest in favor of the accused.

Rotheimer currently has a sexual misconduct and harassment complaint against Sen. Ira Silverstein (D-Chicago) and has requested that commission members with close ties to Silverstein recuse themselves from voting on whether an investigation can proceed with Porter. A split vote by the commission kills off the case, a step that has been criticized by both victims and their representation and lawmakers on the ethics commission.

“There are a lot of people still stuck in the dark, silently suffering because there has been no real reform,” Rotheimer said.

About the Author

- Jake Leonard is the editor-in-chief of Heartland Newsfeed. He is general manager of Heartland Internet Media Networks and an active contributor to four newspapers for Pana News Group. He also serves as chairman of Tri-Counties Libertarian Party and Capital Area Libertarian Party, deputy candidate recruitment director for the Libertarian Party of Illinois and as chairman/co-founder of the Libertarian Party Millennial Caucus.

Illinois legislative ethics commission under fire for neglecting complaints