The Senate Republican Caucus took action this week to restore public trust in an honest and ethical state government by introducing a legislative proposal to ensure independent investigations of members of the General Assembly.
Currently, except in cases alleging sexual harassment, the Legislative Inspector General (LIG) must get advance approval from the Legislative Ethics Commission (LEC) before opening an investigation into allegations against a member of the General Assembly, or issuing subpoenas. If, during the investigation, the LIG discovers wrongdoing that is beyond the scope of, or unrelated to the initial complaint, they have to go back to the LEC to get approval to investigate further.
“What we have is a system which creates the potential for wrongdoers to be protected and legitimate investigations to be prevented, perpetuating this unchecked culture of unaccountable and irresponsible governance,” said State Senator Dale Righter (R-Mattoon).
Under Senate Bill 2297, the LIG would be able to investigate complaints against legislators and issue subpoenas without approval from the LEC. By taking politicians out of the equation, the Legislative Inspector General will have the independence necessary to do his or her job.
Sen. Righter notes that this reform shouldn’t be seen as the end of the road, but instead as the beginning of a more comprehensive conversation. However, while that conversation takes place, Senate Bill 2297 is a simple, effective reform that should garner broad, bipartisan support.
When the fall veto session continues on Nov. 12, Senate Republican lawmakers are hopeful that legislators will come together to pass this legislation and then begin a more extensive conversation about what else can be done to restore honesty and integrity to Springfield.