As general election approaches, House GOP again demands ethics reform legislation
House Minority Leader Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs, speaks during a virtual news conference Tuesday during which Republican lawmakers again called for the General Assembly to pass ethics reform measures. (Credit: Zoom)
In news conference, lawmakers also discuss report deadline, COVID-19 measures
By REBECCA ANZEL
Capitol News Illinois
SPRINGFIELD — With fewer than four months remaining until the general election, House Republicans said Tuesday they want to remind Illinoisans of Democratic lawmakers’ “failure” to address corruption in the General Assembly.
It has been 260 days since former Chicago Democratic Rep. Louis Arroyo was charged by federal officials with bribery, House Minority Leader Jim Durkin said during a virtual news conference. Arroyo’s case remains pending.
Durkin, of Western Springs, also mentioned the case of former Sen. Martin Sandoval, a Chicago Democrat who pleaded guilty in January to federal charges of bribery and tax fraud.
Democratic representatives “appeared sickened and dismayed” by those ethics violations before the novel coronavirus pandemic hit, Durkin said, but “cannot be found nor heard from today.”
“New leadership” in the Illinois House — specifically, installing Durkin as speaker — would end the “cycle of corruption,” Rep. Mark Batinick, a Republican from Plainfield, said Tuesday.
When the Legislature met for a special session in May, guidelines established that only issues “narrowly confined” to COVID-19 could be considered, Durkin said. Instead of addressing reforms previously proposed, the Democratic majority focused on “spending taxpayer money we don’t have, increasing income tax hikes (and) failing to fix the unfair property tax system.
“I’m here to say myself and my caucus will not let anyone forget about the crisis of confidence and corruption that persists in Springfield under the Democratic majority control,” Durkin said.
He also said no measures beyond the creation of a task force to suggest ethics reforms were voted upon or passed into law because the proposals “do not fit into the business model of the Illinois Democratic Party of today.”
Metropolis Republican Rep. Patrick Windhorst, a member of the Joint Commission on Ethics and Lobbying Reform, said the panel’s report on proposed legislative measures should and can be completed to then allow bills to “move forward.” The report deadline, set by statute, was March 31.
Meanwhile, Durkin called “frustrating” Gov. JB Pritzker’s direction of the state’s COVID-19 response “without conferring with the legislative bodies.” He said additional restrictions to combat the public health emergency must be made in consultation with the members of the General Assembly.
“This is not a kingdom,” the minority leader said.
Durkin also said the qualifications challenge he filed against Chicago Democratic Rep. Eva Dina Delgado is still pending. She was appointed to fill Arroyo’s House seat after he resigned, and Durkin took issue with Arroyo’s proxy votes being used in the process. He said he asked that the panel of representatives tasked with handling the challenge be convened in May when the House met in Springfield but his request was ignored.
Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government and distributed to more than 400 newspapers statewide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.