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The Illinois General Assembly needs a strong Legislative Inspector General: Durkin

In order to fill the position created by the Democrats, the four parliamentary groups appointed the Search Committee of the Inspector General of the Legislature. Four eminent and respected attorneys were appointed to the committee: Zach Fardon, former US attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Bethany Biesenthal, former US Assistant Attorney for the Northern District specializing in investigating and prosecuting human trafficking; highly respected district court judge, retired Marcus Salone; and Jeremy Margolis, former director of the Illinois State Police and former US assistant attorney.

In almost all government bodies around the world, this group of distinguished personalities in the legal world would be taken seriously. But Illinois, the country’s most ethically challenged legislature, did not.

The Democrats in the General Assembly vehemently opposed the recommended candidates and refused to endorse anyone for the role.

The Illinois General Assembly has seen so much corruption lately that it can be said that our state has been sold to the highest bidder for nearly a decade. ComEd’s admitted corruption and its attempts to bribe democratic officials have led to numerous indictments – with more likely tendencies.

In addition to ComEd, we have seen charges against numerous officials in federal red-light camera traffic, in connection with illegal slot machines, or for tax evasion and lying to the federal government.

A reasonable person would think that the members of the General Assembly want a strong Legislative Inspector General to help regain the public’s trust and send a clear signal that the old ways have gone, that it is truly a new day in Illinois. Unfortunately, the Illinois General Assembly continues to run its business the same as it always does, with no oversight, no controls and no compensation, and no real ethical reform.

The Legislative Inspector General’s selection committee has reviewed its due diligence and recommended two strong candidates for the position of Legislative Inspector General.

Instead of accepting change, the Illinois Democrats again refused to endorse any candidate, and Illinois faces the prospect of being without a legislative inspector general at a time when one is so badly needed.

The Democrats have previously done this to keep the office vacant and not maintain control over their actions. The last time this happened a few years ago, cases of wrongdoing went unresolved for years and corruption was allowed to flourish. The Democrat-appointed chairman of the Legislative Ethics Commission at the time was Senator Terry Link, a Lake County Democrat. At the same time that Senator Link actively prevented the position in office from being filled, he was also a cooperating federal witness who accepted a bribe from an incumbent Democratic state representative in return for his support for a gaming law.

Sometimes you really have to live through it to believe it. While the Democrats’ talking points will attempt to convince the public otherwise, they are simply not ready or willing to change their ways.

Turning your back on reform and preventing two qualified candidates from becoming the next Legislative Inspector General is reminiscent of the old Chicago Democratic Machine phrase: You don’t want someone who hasn’t been sent.

Jim Durkin is Republican leader in the Illinois House of Representatives.

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