Chesney Guest Column: Public Official A and his Democrat Supermajority killed my Ethics Reform Bills

Northern District US Attorney, John Lausch, recently announced a US District Court filing which disclosed a deferred prosecution agreement for corporate bribery involving a “high-level official” he named as Public Official A. This is a continuation of their ongoing investigation into public corruption in the State of Illinois.  Lausch went on to announce a high level, largest-ever settlement for the largest Utility provider operating in the State of Illinois, while making it clear that there was an elaborate scheme over a decade for the Utility to influence state policies by arranging for jobs for political allies of Public Official A.  By the time Lausch’s comments were finished, it was clear that Illinois House Speaker, Michael Madigan, is the only person who can possibly be described by the prosecutors as Public Official A.  Later the same day, Madigan’s government offices were subpoenaed by the US Department of Justice, making it unequivocally clear he is a target in their ongoing public corruption investigation.

Public Official A allegedly was gifted a seat for a political ally on the utility’s Board of Directors, influenced hiring of a law firm as well as countless lobbyists and employees of the utility and in turn spearheaded legislation through the Chamber he controls to increase profits of the utility on the backs of ratepayers. In this case, the lobbyists didn’t own the politician, the politician owned the lobbyists.  The victims in this scheme were not only taxpayers, but the utility’s ratepayers.

We all know this is only the tip of the iceberg of the widespread corruption that has infiltrated every facet of Illinois under Speaker Madigan’s corrupt tenure.  In calling for the Speaker to resign or be removed, I reminded taxpayers that this was foreseeable.  The truth is, this was foreseeable for decades as Speaker Madigan has held the speaker’s gavel for 35 of the last 37 years.  In the wake of ongoing federal investigations surrounding state and municipal governments that ultimately saw the resignation of several democrat state legislators last year, I led the charge in sponsoring a package of bills aimed at ensuring Illinois has among the most stringent ethics laws in the nation this Spring.

I proposed fining members of the Illinois General Assembly who are found guilty of a felony committed in his or her official capacity as a member of the General Assembly a minimum fine of $100,000 (House Bill 4085).  I further proposed prohibiting a political committee from making expenditures for payments to attorneys, expert witnesses, investigators, or others to provide a defense in a criminal case (House Bill 4087).  To date, Speaker Madigan has spent $2.66 million in campaign funds on legal fees, or approximately, 21% of the total legal/attorney/lawyer fees since July of 2017 by all state and local candidate and political committees in Illinois combined.

While both of those bills enjoyed bipartisan support by ONE brave Democrat co-sponsor, the House Rules Madigan created allowed Madigan to bottle up those bills without ever being debated before the public.  The silence among democrats who refuse to call for his resignation is corruption, plain and simple.