Legislative Inspector General indicates intent to resign; Sen. Tracy echoes need for more ethics reforms

SPRINGFIELD – Legislative Inspector General Carol Pope sent a letter today to State Sen. Jil Tracy (R-Quincy), Chairwoman of the Legislative Ethics Commission (LEC), announcing that she will resign from her post by the end of the year.

In her July 14 letter to the LEC, Pope states her desire to bring about true ethics reform, and expresses her disappointment that her efforts were not as successful as she hoped.

“When I took this job as the Legislative Inspector General, I thought I might be able to make a difference working from the inside. I thought I could be useful in improving the public’s view of the legislature and help bring about true ethics reform. Unfortunately, I have not been able to do so. This last legislative session demonstrated true ethics reform is not a priority.”

Tracy said Pope has worked diligently to pass meaningful ethics reform, with many successes, despite the fact that her push for significant reforms has been blocked many times by Majority legislative leaders.

“As Chair of the LEC, I know the toll public corruption has taken on Illinois’ resources and residents,” said Tracy. “This Legislative Inspector General has done an outstanding job and we thank her for her commitment to better government. Our Caucus has long supported her efforts. It is unfortunate that the Majority legislative leaders did not make better use of her skills and her willingness to make some much-needed changes that would benefit ALL lawmakers. Ethics reform in Illinois has long been an ongoing challenge.”

Tracy said Pope has held the General Assembly accountable on several occasions and since 2018 has four founded reports of wrongdoing, to which the LEC has responded. Her diligent work has brought to light more wrongdoing during her tenure than any other LIG in Illinois history.

Members of the Senate have sponsored several reforms that LIG Pope has requested in the last year. The Ethics Committee Chair did not call these bills for a hearing.

SB 551 (Tracy): Amends the law to include more disclosure on Quarterly Reports filed by the Legislative Inspector General. Adds that the reports will include the total number of founded reports (currently complaints) forwarded to the Attorney General.

SB 1870 (Barickman): Amends the State Officials and Employees Ethics Act to allow the Legislative Inspector General to conduct investigations and issue subpoenas without the prior advance approval of the Legislative Ethics Commission.

SB 2529 (Plummer): Amends the State Officials and Employees Ethics Act so that the Legislative Inspector General shall not initiate any investigation without giving notice of the allegations involved to each member of the Legislative Ethics Commission. The Legislative Inspector General does not require the advance approval of the Commission to initiate any investigation, but the Legislative Inspector General shall not investigate matters that are beyond the scope of, or are unrelated to, the initial complaint upon which the investigation was founded, without the advance approval of the Commission.

SB 4014 (Curran, 101st GA): Amends the State Officials and Employees Ethics Act to:

  • Allow the Legislative Inspector General (LIG) to commence an investigation without prior approval of the Legislative Ethics Commission (LEC);
  • Allow the LIG to issue subpoenas without prior approval of the LEC;
  • Add violations of the Governmental Ethics Act to the jurisdiction of the LEC and clarify the jurisdiction of the LIG is limited to acts relating to government service;
  • Require that all members of the LEC be members of the public, not members of the General Assembly, former members of the General Assembly who have served in the last 10 years, lobbyists or political operatives.

“One of the major issues our Caucus focused on fixing this session was government corruption. While it got off to a rocky start, we took a first step in rooting out the corruption that plagues this building. With that being said, we are not done. There is much more work to do,” Tracy said. “More than anything, we must help restore the people of Illinois’ faith in their government.”

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