Suburban Republicans butt heads over 'buried' misconduct report
Accusations flew among state Republicans Tuesday after a suburban lawmaker called for an investigation of Illinois House Republican Leader Jim Durkin's organization over a "buried" misconduct report.
A representative for Durkin called the comments off base.
But Republican State Rep. David McSweeney of Barrington Hills said it's essential a state panel release the report now -- given Tuesday is the first day candidates can circulate petitions to run in the March primary.
"I believe that Leader Jim Durkin is aware of the founded misconduct ... and that it likely involves a Republican House member," McSweeney said.
Durkin spokeswoman Eleni Demertzis said "House Republicans have addressed each and every allegation of abuse and misconduct swiftly and publicly.
"We will continue to ensure a safe workplace for all staff and employees. This is just more ramblings from someone who hasn't even taken the time to show up for caucus in the last five years," she added.
The brouhaha stems from a statement by former Acting Legislative Inspector General Julie B. Porter that the Illinois Legislative Ethics Commission refused to publicly release a report where she found a legislator had engaged in wrongdoing.
"I requested publication, and the commission refused," Porter wrote in the Chicago Tribune this April.
There are eight Legislative Ethics Commission members chosen by the Senate president, House speaker and the two minority leaders.
McSweeney said voters deserve to know who the legislator is. "Leader Durkin is being tested and, so far, he is miserably failing that test."
McSweeney added he avoids caucus meetings by choice, "I only answer to my constituents."
Demertzis countered that "the LEC is an independent body that the legislative leaders have no involvement with. That's why Rep. McSweeney's statements are once again not based in fact," she said.
The controversy comes as the General Assembly is trying to move past scandals involving sexual misconduct and cover-ups involving both parties in the past.
Naperville Republican state Rep. Grant Wehrli, an assistant minority leader, said "a simple review of action taken by Republican leadership makes it clear that bad behavior will not be tolerated."
Asked about the issue, Legislative Ethics Commission Chairman and state Rep. Avery Bourne said all members were bound by confidentiality agreements and could not comment. "I can say that the commission voted unanimously in February not to publish the report."