Future of ethics in Illinois is in governor's hands

  • Jim Durkin

    Jim Durkin

Updated 8/5/2021 2:24 PM

By Jim Durkin

Guest columnist


It has been over one year since the state's largest utility, ComEd, admitted it attempted to bribe the sitting Speaker of House, Michael Madigan, in exchange for legislative favors.

And while we have seen numerous Madigan allies and staffers get caught up in this scandal as criminal defendants in federal court, we have seen no real action on changing the very rules that allowed this scheme to take place for nearly a decade.

Let's be clear, the corruption we are seeing today goes beyond just ComEd and Madigan, and includes lawmakers bribing other lawmakers, red-light camera operators bribing local elected officials, numerous indicted aldermen, officials at all levels of government cheating on their taxes.

The list is endless, and the legislature and Governor continue to do nothing.

The elected Democrats in the General Assembly always talk a good game, but there is never any action.

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We constantly hear from Speaker Welch and Gov. Pritzker talking about real, meaningful ethics reforms to change the culture of corruption that has pervaded our state almost since its inception. But yet nothing happens.

This year, the Democrats introduced and passed an "ethics bill," something I am sure they will be talking about in their districts and across the state until the next election. But what does this "ethics bill" really do?

It doesn't stop lawmakers from being lobbyists, it doesn't stop the revolving door of lawmakers leaving the legislature then becoming a lobbyist, and most importantly, it does not strengthen the role of the Legislative Inspector General.

In fact, the bill weakens the role of the Legislative Inspector General so much that the current Inspector General just announced her resignation. She would rather quit than stick around in this toothless office the Democrats have created in this horribly flawed bill.


There is still hope for those of us who believe in honest government, but the power lies with one person.

Gov. Pritzker still has the ability to pass a meaningful ethics bill and live up to his past promises.

He needs to issue an amendatory veto to Senate Bill 539 immediately to help protect Illinois from the culture of corruption in his Democratic Party.

The governor must take the leadership required of his office to protect all Illinois residents, and not just the legislative Democrats, by proposing a true ethics product that addresses the very real scandals we are witnessing in real time within our government.

Our state can't afford to be stuck in the same place we have always been when it comes to ethics and cleaning up government.

• State Rep. Jim Durkin, is Republican House Leader from Western Springs.

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