3 bills would punish corrupt politicians in Illinois
A package of anti-corruption bills were introduced in the Illinois Senate: one prohibits lawmakers from using campaign money to pay for legal defense, another fines felonious politicians $100,000 and one takes away their specialty license plates.
A trio of bills that would punish state lawmakers accused of felonies while in office were introduced by state Sen. Andrew Chesney, R-Freeport.
- Senate Bill 1687: Prohibits General Assembly members from paying lawyers, expert witnesses and investigators through political committees. Lawmakers can currently use political donations to pay for their legal defenses.
- Senate Bill 2137: Implements a $100,000 fine for legislators convicted of using their General Assembly office to commit a felony.
- Senate Bill 1662: Strips retired lawmakers or constitutional officers of their specialty license plates if convicted of a felony related to their official duties.
“You shouldn’t use your campaign accounts to defend yourself, you shouldn’t have retired plates if you’re convicted of corruption, and if you do wrong stuff, you should pay a heavy fine,” Chesney said.
Former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan has used more than $8.5 million in campaign funds to pay for his legal defense against federal corruption charges.
Madigan is still collecting a state pension.
State Rep. Curtis Tarver II, D-Chicago, also introduced House Bill 3971, which bans politicians from seeking office after they’ve been convicted of a felony and imposes restrictions for other crimes related to abuse of their offices.
Illinois law bans certain offices from running if convicted of a felony, bribery, perjury and other “infamous crimes,” but not the Illinois General Assembly.
But the ban from Tarver II’s bill ends once convicted lawmakers serve their sentence. Tarver introduced a similar bill in the last legislative session where the ban extended beyond serving the sentence, but it died in the House Rules Committee.
Corruption cost Illinois taxpayers over $10.6 billion in lost economic growth from 2000 to 2020.
That’s more than $830 per Illinoisan. Illinois is ranked as the nation’s second-most corrupt state, so more deterrents to corruption are needed.