SPRINGFIELD –State Representatives Grant Wehrli (R-Naperville) and Patrick Windhorst (R-Metropolis), who serve on the Joint Commission on Ethics and Lobbying Reform, are offering their reaction to a press conference held by Illinois State Senate and House Democrats today touting a “new” package of ethics reform legislation.
The legislative fixes suggested by Senate and House Democrats include multiple ideas already introduced and sponsored by House Republican Caucus members. These include legislative fixes under three categories: lobbying reform, legislative reform, and leadership reform. Specific items include:
- No legislator lobbyists
- Revolving door prohibitions
- Clearer definitions of “lobbyist”
- Fuller disclosure of outside income for legislators
- Establishing an official censure process
- Strengthening the office of the legislative inspector general
- Ending the exemption for GA Employees from State Human Rights Act
- Establishing term limits for legislative leaders
- Allowing for temporary removal of leaders from leadership positions or committee chairs if they are indicted
“Senator Manar actually said the Joint Commission on Lobbying & Ethics Reform is working hard, when in truth, we haven’t met since March 5th! We haven’t met in person and we haven’t met on Zoom. Other state committees, commissions and panels have met multiple times since early March, but the Joint Commission on Lobbying & Ethics Reform has not. We did not finalize our work and we did not finalize our report,” said Rep. Wehrli. “Today’s press conference was completely out of touch with the reality on the ground. Every House member that took part in today’s press conference voted to put Mike Madigan in the Speaker’s chair and voted to accept his Rules of his House. While I applaud those who went on the record again today saying the Speaker should resign, this is merely political theater and window dressing. Until these members demand that the Governor call a special session to address ethics legislation and take real steps to remove Mike Madigan as Speaker, this is all just political cover.”
State Rep. Patrick Windhorst says he led an effort to send a letter to Ethics Commission Co-Chairs Senator Elgie Sims and State Rep. Greg Harris, both Chicago Democrats.
“I think Rep. Wehrli and I were well ahead of our colleagues in asking for the Ethics Commission to resume its work. We haven’t met since March,” Windhorst said. “Many of the legislative fixes proposed by House and Senate Democrats today have been introduced in bill form since November 2019. I just wonder where they have been. Corruption in Springfield has been rampant, and the House Speaker is implicated in a serious scheme involving bribery for taking official action. I believe we should return to Springfield in a Special Session to address the state’s serious plague of public corruption.”
On July 24, the Republican members of the General Assembly serving on the Joint Commission on Ethics and Lobbying Reform issued a letter to the co-chairs of the Commission requesting to meet to finish its work and finalize its report that was due at the end of March.
The contents of the letter are below:
July 24, 2020
House Majority Leader Greg Harris
1967 W. Montrose
Chicago, IL 60613
State Senator Elgie R. Sims, Jr.
8233 S. Princeton Ave.
Chicago, IL 60620
Dear Co-chair Harris and Co-chair Sims,
The Joint Commission on Ethics & Lobbying Reform has not met since March 5. While none of us could have imagined the extent to which the coronavirus pandemic would limit our ability to conduct state business in person these last few months, we have all found creative ways to work around the risks associated with COVID-19.
Some state panels are now meeting in person, including the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR), with proper precautions in place, and many other groups are utilizing online apps like Zoom to conduct business. In fact, many groups have been meeting via Zoom throughout the entirety of the health pandemic. There is no reason why the Joint Commission on Ethics & Lobbying Reform cannot complete its work.
Recent news only highlights the importance of our collective work to establish better ethical standards for those elected to serve the public. This most recent breach of ethics involving ComEd and the Speaker of the House requires our immediate attention.
As the Republican members of the General Assembly serving on the commission, we are formally requesting that you reconvene the Joint Commission on Lobbying & Ethics Reform, either in person or through an online meeting service, within 30 days of the date of this letter, to complete our final report, including policy recommendations for comprehensive ethics reform.
Our group was doing good work before the stay-home order associated with the COVID-19 response. We must complete our work and follow through with several legislative remedies to combat the corruption that has stained our state and continues to erode the public’s confidence in its government.
The blanket of mistrust in state government will only be lifted when policies are put in place that force elected officials to meet the highest levels of conduct.
State Senator Dan McConchie
State Senator John Curran
State Rep. Grant Wehrli
State Rep. Patrick Windhorst
House Republican Sponsored Ethics Legislation – Topic, Status, and Introduction Dates Below
|Bill Number||Description||Status /Vote/Notes|
|HB 165 (Bennett)||Two-year revolving door ban||Assigned to Judiciary-Civil Committee Assigned to Constitutional Law Subcommittee Re-referred to Rules|
|HB 332 (Wehrli)||Prohibits legislators from acting as attorneys in tax appeals cases||Assigned to Judiciary-Civil Committee Assigned to Constitutional Law Subcommittee Re-referred to Rules|
|HB 361 (Wehrli)||False or incomplete statements of economic interests subject to $150,000 fine Provides fines for intentional failure to complete ethics or sexual harassment training Fine up to $115,000 for each fraudulent obtaining of moneys reserved for minority, women, or disabled veteran-owned businesses Fine up to $1 million for bribery||Assigned to Judiciary-Civil Committee Assigned to Constitutional Law Subcommittee Re-referred to Rules|
|HB 363 (Butler)||No political fundraisers on Session days unless the legislative district is located in Sangamon County|
|HB 818 (Murphy)||Members of the G.A. who leave office prior to the end of any month are only paid for the days they were in office (rather than for the entire month)||Assigned to Executive Committee Re-referred to Rules|
|HB 878 (McDermed)||Prohibits legislators from serving as the chairperson for a statewide political party (see also Butler)||Assigned to the Judiciary-Civil Committee Assigned to the Constitutional Law Subcommittee Lost in Subcommittee 2-3-0|
|HB 879 (McDermed)||One-year revolving door ban|
|HB 2418 (Butler)||Prohibits legislators from serving as the chairperson for a statewide political party (see also McDermed)||Assigned to Executive Committee Re-referred to Rules|
|HB 2447 (Caulkins)||Statements of economic interests from members of the G.A. must include interests related to the marijuana industry||Assigned to Executive Committee Re-referred to Rules|
|HB 2596 (Durkin)||Members of the G.A. shall consult with their ethics officer if they believe a possible conflict of interest exists||Assigned to Executive Committee Re-referred to Rules|
|HB 2688 (McDermed)||Provides for specified rights of complainants under the State Officials and Ethics Act||Assigned to Executive Committee Re-referred to Rules|
|HB 2842 (Hammond)||Provides that the Secretary of State shall compile a list of persons whose statements of economic interests are late and deduct any unpaid late filing fees||Assigned to Executive Committee Re-referred to Rules|
|HB 3139 (Halbrook)||Extends provisions of county ethics laws to State’s Attorneys and Assistant State’s Attorneys||Assigned to Executive Committee Re-referred to Rules|
|HB 3940 (Butler)||Changes the definition of “gambling device” to include sweepstakes machines, which would make them illegal in IL||Referred to Rules|
|HB 3946 (Demmer)||Requires registration for persons lobbying units of local government and school districts (rather than only persons lobbying State government)||Referred to Rules|
|HB 3947 (Demmer)||Prohibits lobbying for compensation by a member of the G.A., their spouse, or immediate family member living with them; violations are official misconduct – a Class 3 felony (see also Righter)||Referred to Rules|
|HB 3954 (Durkin)||Adds same requirements as judges for statements of economic interest||Referred to Rules|
|HB 3955 (Durkin)||State agencies must keep records of requests regarding state agency contracts from a member of the G.A. and establish a web page||Referred to Rules|
|HB 3956 (Skillicorn)||Requires a five-year moratorium on the “revolving door policy” of former members of the G.A. becoming lobbyists (see also Bailey)||Referred to Rules|
|HB 3957 (Skillicorn)||Prevents a member of the G.A. from concurrently serving as a legislator and a tax attorney||Referred to Rules|
|HB 3958 (Skillicorn)||Prohibits members of the G.A. from conducting any lobbying activity||Referred to Rules|
|HB 3963 (Butler)||Prohibits members of the State Board of Elections or their spouse from serving as an officer of a political committee or directing its actions or funds (see also Batinick)||Referred to Rules|
|HB 3964 (Batinick)||Prohibits members of the State Board of Elections from contributing to or serving on a political committee (see also Butler)||Referred to Rules|
|HR 588 (Durkin)||A bill with 5 bipartisan sponsors must be discharged from Rules and called for a vote in committee||Referred to Rules|
|HJR 87 (McCombie)||Creates an Ethics Reform Task Force to address corruption within Illinois government||Assigned to Executive Committee|
|HJRCA 36 (Durkin)||G.A. member vacancies are filled by a special election, must be a member of the same party||Referred to Rules|