Illinois state Sen. Jason Plummer (R-Edwardsville)
Freshmen Illinois state Sen. Jason Plummer (R-Edwardsville) concedes that political corruption has become so rampant in Springfield that new methods of accountability are required.
“The swamp in Springfield needs to be drained,” Plummer posted on Facebook. “I'm proud to be a co-sponsor of SB 2997, which will help restore integrity to our state government and hopefully restore the trust of the people. Illinois is a national laughingstock and I hope the people choose to stand with those of us who are fighting for good government.”
The bill, now being proposed in the legislature, would grant greater autonomy to legislative inspector general Carol Pope as it relates to her ability to launch investigations and issue subpoenas when corruption is alleged or suspected. Introduced by Sen. Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington), the bill has 17 other co-sponsors including Plummer.
“I believe the people of Illinois want us to relinquish the control that the legislature has to police the actions of their colleagues who may have committed wrongdoing,” Barickman said at a press conference heralding the proposal. “We can do this by giving two important powers to the office of the legislative inspector general, which will bring independence to that office.”
Under current law, the inspector general must get permission from a panel of state lawmakers known as the Legislative Ethics Commission in order to launch any investigation, other than those involving sexual misconduct.
In April, the Chicago Tribune reported that outgoing interim inspector general Julie Porter described the system as “broken” because it has no independent authority to act, adding that lawmakers who serve on the oversight panel “have inherent conflicts of interest in serving on the commission.”
GOP-backed Senate Bill 2997 comes in response to a flood of ongoing federal corruption probes where various Democratic state lawmakers have landed at the center of the investigations. Most recently, longtime state Rep. Luis Arroyo (D-Chicago) was forced to step down from office after being arrested on bribery charges after allegedly offering a bribe to a state senator in exchange for support on a gambling bill.