FILE - Jonathan Carroll

State Rep. Jonathan Carroll.

New legislation in Springfield would keep Illinois lawmakers from shutting down investigations into their colleagues by the legislative ethics officer.

The Illinois General Assembly has seen multiple resignations, offices raided, arrests, allegations of illegal kickbacks and a conviction in recent months as part of a sweeping federal corruption probe.

It was revealed in 2018 that Illinois' Legislative Inspector General, the person responsible for investigating harassment, corruption and other unethical behavior under the dome, was often blocked by the Legislative Ethics Commission, a panel of lawmakers who don’t release their decisions to the public. 

State Rep. Jonathan Carroll’s legislation would put a stop to that. 

“We need to have more information and the ability to gather that information,” the Northbrook Democrat said. “I would like to know that everybody in my chamber as well as the Senate is hitting a button or introducing legislation or doing things not for personal gain but for the betterment of the state.”

Specifically, House Bill 4558 would require the investigator to tell the panel of lawmakers that they’ve started an investigation but the commission would no longer be able to stop them from starting it or from releasing a report on the findings to the public. 

Former Legislative Inspector General Julie Porter told lawmakers in a joint legislative hearing last week that she had multiple serious investigations halted by the Legislative Ethics Commission. She said she wouldn’t take the position again because, under the current structure, it was a “waste of time.”

Porter and two other legislative inspectors general suggested things similar to Carroll’s legislation, who received the draft language for his bill from the nonpartisan Illinois Policy Institute, which had testified before lawmakers on the matter and offered up multiple proposals to better police corrupt behavior in Springfield.  

Staff Reporter

Cole Lauterbach reports on Illinois government and statewide issues for The Center Square. He has produced radio shows for stations in Bloomington/Normal and Peoria, and created award-winning programs for Comcast SportsNet Chicago.