State House Dist. 65, 66 candidates butt heads over ethics
All the candidates for the 65th and 66th state House districts say the General Assembly needs stronger ethics rules.
But the Republicans are questioning whether their opponents mean it, as long as they accept campaign contributions from Democratic leaders, including longtime House Speaker Michael J. Madigan.
Suzanne Ness, a Crystal Lake Democrat, is seeking to unseat state Rep. Allen Skillicorn, a Republican from East Dundee, in the 66th District. The district includes parts of Crystal Lake, Lake in the Hills, Algonquin, Sleepy Hollow, Carpentersville, West Dundee, Huntley and Elgin.
Democrat Martha Paschke of Geneva is seeking the 65th District seat held by state Rep. Dan Ugaste, a Geneva Republican. The 65th House District includes parts of Geneva, St. Charles, Campton Hills, Plato Center, South Elgin, Elgin, Hampshire and Huntley.
During a recent endorsement interview with the Daily Herald and Shaw Media, all four candidates were asked about ethics reform.
Paschke said the legislature needs to address the interaction between legislators and lobbyists, including imposing tougher fines and taking away pensions from legislators who violate ethics laws.
Ugaste said he has co-sponsored legislation that would prohibit legislators from working as lobbyists for up to three years after they leave office. He said he also would like them prohibited from lobbying other levels of government during that time.
"If you want ethics reform, you can't have the speaker supporting you," Ugaste said.
Paschke responded that she didn't receive support from Madigan, just the state Democratic Party.
In addition, Ugaste said the economic interest statements legislators have to file should require more information.
Ness said she supports a cooling-off period, including other levels of government, and more-detailed economic impact statements. She said she would like to see an outside entity enforce ethics.
"This body oversees itself, and that is not always a good thing," Ness said.
She jabbed at Skillicorn, saying that it was discovered he had voted 23 times in a session, while he was actually campaigning in his district.
Skillicorn didn't respond to what Ness said. But Skillicorn previously has said he had arrived during a recess of the spring 2019 session and inadvertently voted.
During the interview, Skillicorn said there are dozens of legislators "moonlighting" as lobbyists, said property tax reform was unlikely due to Madigan and other legislators working as property-tax-appeal attorneys, and pointed out "There is a Madigan campaign staffer on this call." He questioned why several people who circulated nomination petitions for Ness lived in Chicago, or in Madigan's district.
There were two people on the call who were paid by Friends of Michael J. Madigan to work on Ness' campaign, according to state campaign finance records. One of them also is being paid by Democratic Majority to work on Ness' campaign and the Paschke campaign.