Calls continue to clean up corruption in Illinois government

Illinois Budget
Visitors tour the rotunda at the Illinois State Capitol Thursday, June 5, 2014, in Springfield, Ill. Illinois state agencies are restricting spending and bracing for the worst after lawmakers approved a budget that uses accounting gimmicks and punts on crucial decisions about where to find revenue until after the November election. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman) Seth Perlman

Calls continue to clean up corruption in Illinois government

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(The Center Square) – Illinois Republicans are calling for stronger ethics reforms in the wake of the corruption scandals involving former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan and utility Commonwealth Edison.

Madigan associate and longtime chief of staff Tim Mapes was convicted last month of lying to a grand jury to protect his boss. In May, four of Madigan’s allies were found guilty of conspiring to bribe the former speaker to help pass legislation favorable to ComEd.

Next spring, Madigan, D-Chicago, and former ComEd lobbyist Michael McClain, who was among the four found guilty in May, face racketeering and other charges. Both men have pleaded not guilty.

Illinois House Minority Leader Tony McCombie, R-Savanna, is pressing for greater ethics laws in the Illinois House.

“As the tangled web of corruption has unraveled in federal court, reform efforts in the statehouse are being stalled by Democratic leadership, who are obviously content with the status quo,” McCombie said.

McCombie has introduced legislation that would end the practice of allowing criminally accused elected officials of using campaign funds for a criminal defense. Madigan has used at least $8.5 million of campaign funds so far to pay the law firm Katten Muchin Rosenman in his criminal defense.

Last May, former Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn delivered letters to Gov. J.B. Pritzker, Senate President Don Harmon, D-Oak Park, and House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch, D-Hillside, that called for a special session to address corruption in Illinois government, but it never materialized.

McCombie said ethics reforms will most likely be a hot topic during the fall veto session, which begins Oct. 24.

“I sure hope so,” McCombie told The Center Square. “It’s certainly something we are going to continue to talk about. I don’t understand why they wouldn’t because it’s a win-win for the Democrats, especially as we go into a campaign season.”

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