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House Members Demand Ethics Reform

Illinois House Republicans are stepping up their criticism of the state's Democratic party for their failure to address corruption within their ranks. In the wake of the recent guilty verdicts handed down to the ComEd Four, and the disclosure that former Democratic State Senator Tom Cullerton walked straight from his jail cell to a lobbying firm, House Republicans are calling out the supermajority Democrats in Springfield for operating under the same corrupt Madigan rulebook.

In December 2020, Speaker Welch, acting as Madigan’s appointed Chairman of the Special Investigating Committee, shut down hearings after previously receiving testimony from ComEd’s compliance attorney. Despite repeated investigations, indictments, and arrests, Democrats have not acted on any meaningful anti-corruption reforms and have rarely called their colleagues out for wrongdoing.

Former Democratic Governor Pat Quinn has joined Republicans in calling for action to address conflicts of interest. House Republican Assistant Minority Leader State Representative Ryan Spain highlighted several conflicts, including Democratic Speaker Chris Welch shutting down the Special Investigating Committee looking into Madigan, and then receiving Madigan’s full endorsement for Speaker. Representative Lisa Hernandez shut down fair redistricting and then received a plum assignment as Chair of the Democratic Party of Illinois. Governor Pritzker pushed to expand Medicaid-like benefits to undocumented immigrants and is now lobbying for managed care administration of these services while his own “blind trust” is reportedly invested in the state’s largest managed care provider, Centene.

House Republican Floor Leader Patrick Windhorst joined Spain and Representatives Amy Elik and Blaine Wilhour in asking, “What is it going to take to get House Democrats to recognize we need to stop corruption once and for all?”

Representative Amy Elik also pointed out an ethical loophole left unaddressed by Democrats. “Under current law, former Speaker Madigan will continue to collect a taxpayer-paid pension until a guilty verdict is reached. This means Madigan could go on to collect his elected official pension for several years before it’s taken away. That’s why I've filed legislation to suspend a lawmaker’s pension if they are charged with corruption by federal investigators,” said Elik, referring to her legislation, House Bill 1277.

The issue of corruption within the Illinois Democratic party has been a long-standing concern, with numerous investigations and indictments over the years. However, with the recent guilty verdicts and the continued inaction on ethics reforms, House Republicans are ramping up their efforts to bring attention to the issue and force change. The question remains whether the Democrats will finally take action, or if it will take continued pressure from outside forces to clean up the mess.


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