October 19, 2022

By Katie Clancy

As much as legislators would like to pretend they are ushering in a new era in Springfield after Mike Madigan’s almost 50-year reign, there aren’t many signs of improvement at the statehouse. Instead, complacency and corruption are what we see. 

Just last week, Mike Madigan received yet another indictment from federal authorities for his alleged involvement in a pay-to-play scheme with AT&T, and in September, Sen. Emil Jones Jr. pled ‘not guilty’ to federal bribery charges for his alleged illegal involvement with a red light camera company. Sen. Jones has since resigned from his leadership posts but remains a member of the Senate. 

Jones joined Madigan and the seven other state legislators who have received federal corruption charges since 2019. 

Illinois’ culture of corruption spreads far beyond Madigan. And far beyond the scope of federal investigators. 

Many legislators who remain in the House have received millions and millions of dollars combined from the former Speaker and former Chairman of the State Democratic Party and now are trying to persuade residents into thinking they are independent leaders. 

But the problems don’t end there. 

For instance, Sen. Michael Hastings is trying to defend himself after several GOP leaders, and even Gov. Pritzker have asked him to resign because allegations of domestic abuse from his wife surfaced.

State Senator Sara Feigenholtz plans to introduce legislation that would address bullying and sexual harassment in Springfield in hopes of improving the statehouse atmosphere. Four years removed from the sexual harassment scandal involving Madigan and this legislation is just being introduced. 

As a baseline, legislation that attempts to curb ethics violations and statehouse bullying tactics is noble. But the legislators introducing it don’t appear in a hurry to do more than introduce legislation, celebrate with a press release, and then quietly perpetuate the status quo. 

Much more is needed for an impactful cultural shift in Springfield. And it starts with you. 

We can’t rely on politicians to hold each other accountable. It’s up to you to hold you elected leaders to a higher standard. 

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