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Groups call for cleaning up Illinois politics

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Tuesday, October 6, 2020  |  Article  |  By Kevin Bessler | The Center Square

ComEd (94) , Ethics, Campaign Reform, Transparency (12a) , Pay to Play, Corruption Madigan, Michael--State House, 22

(The Center Square) – Amid the ongoing patronage scandal investigation involving ComEd and House Speaker Mike Madigan, some are calling for changes in Illinois politics.

While Madigan has yet to be charged, ComEd claimed in a court document that it handed out jobs and contracts to Madigan associates for favorable legislation. David Greising, president and CEO of the Better Government Association, addressed the subject in a recent address to the City Club of Chicago.

“Madigan’s alleged conduct as described in the ComEd agreement is wrong,” Greising said. “The agreement shows what can go wrong in a system unmoored from ethics, where self-interest trumps the public interest.”

Republicans have introduced a legislation package that would change the investigative authority within the state, including allowing wiretapping. The package would also grant the legislative inspector general the ability to investigate members of the General Assembly without first receiving approval from the Legislative Ethics Commission while changing the composition of the commission to include members of the general public.

The Joint Commission on Ethics and Lobbying Reform heard many ideas during several hearings last spring, but the group hasn’t met in six months and it is not clear when it will meet again.

“Was that a meaningful attempt to try to find out what the best ethics package should be and then move forward on that,” state Sen. Dale Righter asked. “Or was that attempt simply to try to swat the issue aside and hope that it goes away?”

Greising said the culture of corruption in Illinois has resisted change for decades and won’t go down without a fight.

“First we need to learn why past major reform efforts have come up short,” Greising said. “Next we should look at what is underway today, and finally, there is the challenge of getting something done. We have our work cut out for us.”