House GOP leader should call for probe of possible misconduct

House Minority Leader Jim Durkin has had an opportunity to be a statesman and take the bold step of rooting out corruption and wrongdoing in his own caucus. It is easy to be for ethics when the other party is under fire - it is not so easy when it potentially involves your own party. Leader Durkin is being tested and, so far, he is miserably failing that test. I'm willing to stand up against misconduct on both sides of the aisle.

The first issue at hand is a buried founded misconduct report about a member of the General Assembly. Former Legislative Inspector General Julie Porter penned an op-ed in the Chicago Tribune on April 23 expressing disappointment in the fact that some of her findings never saw the light of day. Porter is a very well-respected attorney. She performed her job admirably as legislative inspector general and her views should be taken seriously.

Only the Legislative Ethics Commission can formally release the legislator misconduct finding, but the members of the commission are all General Assembly members. Essentially what we have in Springfield is insiders protecting insiders.

In Springfield, there are insiders and then there are real insiders. Legislative leaders by virtue of their position as leaders are privy to information that most rank-and-file members simply do not have. I believe that Leader Jim Durkin is aware of the founded misconduct that Porter is referring to and that it likely involves a Republican House member. Even if the buried report is about a Democrat, Durkin very likely has access to the information. Two members of Durkin's leadership team are on the Legislative Ethics Commission, with one serving as the chairman. It is highly doubtful that Leader Durkin is truly in the dark about this situation.

What did Jim Durkin know and when did he know it? Petitions could be filed starting on Tuesday. We have a legislative inspector general finding about wrongdoing involving a member of the General Assembly and the public has no idea who that legislator is. Illinois citizens deserve to know about legislator misconduct, especially now, when legislators are potentially filing to run for re-election.

At the very least, Leader Durkin should join me in demanding the immediate release of the misconduct report to the public and publicly ask his two leadership team members to support the immediate release of the buried report. If Republicans are going to criticize Democrats on ethics, we should first make sure we are consistent and are doing everything in our power to root out corruption and wrongdoing in our own ranks.

We need a full independent investigation of Durkin's operation exactly in the same way as Maggie Hickey thoroughly investigated the House Democratic operation. Republicans should follow their lead and hire Hickey to do a full independent investigation.

Durkin did hire a firm (Alvarez & Marsal) to make recommendations about sexual harassment procedures, but the firm did not complete the full independent investigation that we desperately need. Let me repeat - THERE HAS BEEN NO INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATION OF DURKIN'S OPERATION. The fact that House Republican Leader Jim Durkin refuses to hire respected Maggie Hickey to do a full investigation is evidence enough of the need for this independent investigation. Furthermore, the more vocal I have been about the need for an independent investigation, the more actions Leader Durkin has taken to take away caucus resources from me. As a whistle-blower, I will never back down.

Transparency is the key to ending corruption in Illinois. I hope Leader Durkin will finally join me in coming clean and telling Illinois citizens what he knows about the buried Porter report, and it is my sincere hope he will take the bold step to do what the Democrats have already done in a case involving questionable conduct - hire Maggie Hickey to do a full investigation of the Durkin House operation. We will then be able to answer these questions: What did Jim Durkin know and when did he know it?

State Rep. David McSweeney is a Republican from Barrington Hills.

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