State Sen. Emil Jones III

State Sen. Emil Jones III, D-Chicago, talking to reporters in 2020.

(The Center Square) – While the federal government has charged 11 state lawmakers with corruption in the past ten years, leading statehouse Republicans say voters at the ballot box need to tell Democrats “enough is enough.”

State Sen. Emil Jones III, D-Chicago, was charged this week with bribery related to the red light camera industry and lying to the FBI.

Senate President Don Harmon, D-Oak Park, said in a statement he asked and expects to receive Jones’ resignation from his committee chairmanship and leadership roles. Harmon said public officials need to hold themselves to a high ethical standard for the public to have trust and faith in their work.

Wednesday, Harmon notified the secretary of the Senate that Jones resigned from his position as deputy majority leader and as chair of the Senate Licensed Activities Committee and vice chair of the Senate Public Safety Committee.

Jones’ legislative website at ILGA.gov had listed his membership as deputy majority leader of the Senate, a designation that no longer appears. Other changes from positions shown on his page earlier this year were a chairmanship of the Licensed Activities Committee and vice-chair of Public Safety, but those no longer appear. He is still listed as the sub-vice-chair of the Business Regulations and Labor Committee. He is also still listed as serving on the Energy and Public Utilities, Financial Institution, Transportation, Public Safety and Licensed Activities committees.

House Minority Leader Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs, said he should be surprised at Jones’ indictment, but isn’t.

“I don’t know how you cannot think that the House and Senate don’t qualify as a racketeer corrupt organization,” Durkin told WMAY. “This is the 11th person in the last ten years who is an elected member, who is a member of the House of Representatives or the state Senate who has been charged by the federal prosecutors in Illinois for corruption.”

The most recent high-profile case before Jones’ indictment was earlier this year when former longtime Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, was charged with 22 counts of corruption by federal prosecutors. He’s pleaded not guilty and a trial is pending.

Durkin said the federal government has been busy, but nothing is stopping local or state officials from going after corrupt actors.

“Because a person has been charged at the federal level doesn’t preclude the attorney general or a state prosecutor to proceed with state charges for a similar type of action,” “You’re talking two different sovereigns. There’s no double jeopardy there. So, in theory, you can do it. In reality, it doesn’t happen.”

Durkin said it’s time for voters to say “enough is enough” and to “move on from the Democrats.”

Senate Minority Leader Dan McConchie, R-Hawthorn Woods, said in a statement online that Democrats have refused for years to allow Republicans’ anti-corruption proposal to move forward.

“Even in a post-Madigan-era, Illinois continues to have a system corruption problem-one that Democrats continue to enable,” McConchie said. “If the Democrats won’t allow us to do the right thing, it’s time for voters to step in and make the changes this November.”

Messages seeking reaction about Jones’ indictment from Illinois House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch, D-Hillside, were not immediately returned.

Associate Editor

Greg Bishop reports on Illinois government and other issues for The Center Square. Bishop has years of award-winning broadcast experience and hosts the WMAY Morning Newsfeed out of Springfield.