Politicians convicted of corruption can run for re-election under Illinois law

Politicians convicted of corruption can run for re-election under Illinois law

After a corrupt politician gets caught in Illinois, they can again run for office. State Rep. Curtis Tarver II has introduced a bill to stop that.

Illinois election law allows corrupt politicians to run for office after being convicted, but state Rep. Curtis Tarver II, D-Chicago, has introduced a bill to correct that.

Only politicians convicted of election fraud are prohibited from running for state office. Tarver’s bill explicitly bans any person convicted of a felony while holding office from running for office at any level of government.

The bill was introduced days after state Sen. Tom Cullerton pleaded guilty to federal embezzlement charges. While Cullerton resigned, he could legally run again for the same Senate seat.

“It makes no sense,” Tarver said to Politico’s Illinois Playbook. He said every other state bans officials from running for office based on their criminal record, not the office they’re seeking.

At the local level, city and county politicians cannot run for office if they’ve been convicted. Because of his recent conviction for federal tax fraud, Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson is prohibited from running for city office, but he can still seek state office.

In the past 20 years, corruption has cost Illinois taxpayers over $10.6 billion in lost economic growth. That’s more than $830 per Illinoisan. Illinois is ranked as the nation’s second-most corrupt state.

The General Assembly passed new ethics reforms to root out corruption in 2021, but more structural change is needed. Tarver’s bill is a solid step in tackling Illinois’ long history of corruption.

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