GOP House Members Say Ethics Reforms Can’t Wait on a Commission

State Capitol, December 4, 2019 – We speak with two members of the House Republican Caucus that say the breaches of ethical conduct that’s been occurring over the last year and recent weeks, underscores the need for an urgent effort to pass stricter reforms on ethics and lobbying.

Reps Allen Skillicorn (R) and Rep Blaine Wilhour (R) tell the Illinois Channel the Governor should call a Special Session and not wait for a commission to work on reforms.

Rep Wilhour says the commission, whose members were appointed on December 4, with two Democrats and two Republicans — are not scheduled to complete their work until the end of March — TWO WEEKS after the March 17th primary. In recent weeks the Capitol has seen two Democrats resign in a cloud of questionable activities that had law enforcement removing documents from then Sen Martin Sandoval’s office. And Rep Luis Arroyo resigned his seat after the US Attorney’s office charged him with offering a bribe to a fellow lawmaker.

Illinois has long held a national reputation as being one of the most politically corrupt states in the nation, with critics often pointing to the many government officials convicted of criminal actions over the last 50 years.

Republicans in the House say the state’s reputation is one of the many things that needs a make-over if the state is to be turned around and become attractive to new business.
Governor Pritzker (D) has also called for making reforms to the state’s ethics and lobbying regulations. Republicans and some Democrats have voiced concerns that a new ethics package might be more show than substance, and are looking for a slew of changes that would include prohibiting lawmakers from also serving as lobbyists.

The Governor’s office published a press release following these interviews that named the members of the new Ethics commission.


Gov. Pritzker Signs Ethics Reform Legislation, Names Members to Joint Commission

Governor JB Pritzker signed ethics reform legislation today and appointed four members to the newly formed Joint Commission on Ethics and Lobbying Reform.

“The people of Illinois deserve a state government they can trust, and that means we need to put stronger ethical safeguards in place, prioritize transparency and demand more accountability from public servants,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “While we took important steps in November to tighten ethics requirements and improve transparency, it’s critical to take additional action to end the unconscionable self-enrichment and corruption that has been uncovered. I expect this commission to deliberate swiftly and report their recommendations with the greatest possible urgency.”

Senate Bill 1639 strengthens the detail of information required on statements of economic interest, increases lobbyist disclosure requirements – including whether they are elected officials anywhere in Illinois, whether they are registered lobbyists in any unit of local government and whether they subcontract – and requires the Secretary of State’s office to create a publicly accessible and searchable database combining registered lobbyist disclosures, contributions by registered lobbyists and statements of economic interest.

Created by HJR 93, the joint commission will review and make recommendations to change state ethics laws, examine best practices from other state and local governments, and seek expert and public input on improving ethics in Illinois state government.

Comprised of 16 members from Illinois’ executive and legislative branches, members of the joint commission are prohibited from lobbying Illinois state government during their service on the commission or at any time during the last five years.

The Governor’s appointments to the Joint Commission on Ethics and Lobbying Reform include:

Juliana Stratton serves as the Lieutenant Governor of the State of Illinois. In this role, her portfolio includes leading the Justice, Equity and Opportunity Initiative and chairing the Illinois Council on Women and Girls, the Governor’s Rural Affairs Council, the Military Economic Development Council and the Illinois River Coordinating Council. Previously, she represented the 5th District in the Illinois House of Representatives and her first elected office was serving as Chair of the Kenwood Academy Local School Council. Stratton also served as Director of the Center for Public Safety and Justice at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Executive Director of the Cook County Justice Advisory Council and as a Deputy Hearing Commissioner for the City of Chicago Department of Business Affairs & Consumer Protection, all with a focus on improving public safety and building stronger communities. She is the proud graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and DePaul University’s College of Law. 

Steven A. Andersson serves as a Commissioner of the Illinois Human Rights Commission.Andersson has been a licensed attorney for more almost three decades. He is a partner at the law firms of Mickey, Wilson, Weiler, Renzi and Andersson, P.C. and the Elder Law Center, P.C. He is admitted to practice law at all Illinois courts, the United States Supreme Court, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, and United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. Andersson was also the state representative for Illinois’ 65th legislative district from 2015 to 2019 where he served as Republican floor leader in 2018. During the 99th General Assembly, Andersson was a leader of the Republican coalition that joined with the Democratic caucus to end the longest state budget impasse in U.S. history. He has also been a strident defender of the rights of all people, including being the chief co-sponsor for the ERA, a two-time sponsor of the Equal Pay Act and chief co-sponsor of the LGBTQ curriculum bill. Prior to joining the Illinois House of Representatives, Andersson served his community as a trustee and treasurer on the Geneva Library District Board for approximately 5 years, including serving 2 years as treasurer. Andersson is a past president of the Kane County Bar Association. He is also a member of the Kane County Bar Foundation; Illinois Bar Association; American Bar Association; National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys; and served on the governing board of the Aurora Family Counseling Service and Big Brothers Big Sisters.

David Harris serves as the director of the Illinois Department of Revenue. Harris previously represented the 66th District in the Illinois House of Representatives where he served as the Republican spokesperson for the Appropriations-General Service and Revenue & Finance committees. Harris also served as Senior Vice President of the Illinois Hospital Association, Adjutant General for the State of Illinois, and Deputy Director and Chief of Staff of the U.S. State Department’s Iraq Reconstruction Management Office (IRMO), where he oversaw $18.4 billion in Congressional funds. Harris is a Life Member of the Association of the US Army, the Military Officers Association of America, the National Guard Association of the US and the Illinois National Guard Association. He received his Bachelor of Arts from Georgetown University, and his professional military education includes the U.S. Army’s Command and General Staff College in residence, Military Police Officer courses, and training and leadership seminars at the U.S. Army War College.

Ann Spillane serves as the General Counsel in the Office of Governor JB Pritzker.For 16 years prior, Spillane was the chief of staff in Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office, overseeing more than 750 employees, including over 385 attorneys, and an annual budget of more than $80 million. Previously, Spillane served as a senior staff attorney at the Environmental Law and Policy Center and partner at Sachnoff & Weaver. She also clerked for the United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit. Spillane received her Juris Doctor and Bachelor of Arts in political science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The joint commission will issue a report on its review and recommendations to the General Assembly, Governor, Attorney General, Treasurer, Comptroller and Secretary of State by March 31, 2020.

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