socastcmsRssStartBy Greg Bishop | Illinois News NetworksocastcmsRssEnd
A member of the Legislative Ethics Commission said the panel is getting closer to selecting an inspector general to handle ethics complaints against lawmakers, but the post won’t be filled this year.
Lawmakers appointed Julie Porter as the temporary inspector general in late 2017 after it was revealed the post had been vacant for several years while allegations of wrongdoing by lawmakers sat on a shelf.
Members of the Illinois Legislative Ethics Commission wanted to secure a new inspector general during veto session that wrapped up last month. That didn’t happen.
Commission member state Sen. Jil Tracy, R-Quincy, said they’ve got the candidates ready.
“Quite a few applications, some of them didn’t meet all the qualifications, but it’s been narrowed down and so there will be some applicants interviewed next week, [December] the 13th, so I hope soon after that we’ll be able to announce,” Tracy said.
Tracy was on the commission years ago when she was a state representative, but only just recently came back on now as a Senator. Her new term on the commission was after long vacancy was revealed. Tracy still defended the commission.
“They recognized that they had that gap and kept recommending and it just kept getting put on the back burner of leadership to move it forward,” Tracy said. “I’m glad it got highlighted, became transparent and we acted on it swiftly once we had all of that detailed.”
Lawmakers have since changed the law requiring the position to be filled and for the entire legislature to approve the inspector, not just picked by legislative leaders and rubber stamped by the commission.
While Porter was picked by legislative leaders, the new law requires candidates to be screened by a nonpartisan group. That group consisted of a lawyer and several judges. Final interviews will done by the ethics commission.
Lawmakers come back after the new year for two final days of the 100th General Assembly the second week of January. Tracy said it’s possible to have the entire legislature approve the candidate then.
“It very well could be,” Tracy said. “It very well could be and I hope that that would happen.”
If not during lame duck, the 101st General Assembly will be seated the second week of January and they can take up the nomination.
Denise Rotheimer, who made her complaint against a state Senator public last year and revealing the vacancy, said the position must be filled.
“It is a requirement by law that that position be filled and if they are not going to do their duty which is an act of nonfeasance, a violation of the ethics act, then we’re just going to continue with this same betrayal of trust,” Rotheimer said.
Porter said she’s committed to staying on until a permanent inspector general is selected.