Sen. Elgie R. Sims Jr.

SPRINGFIELD—Members of the Joint Commission on Ethics and Lobbying Reform heard feedback from witnesses on rules for state officials and employees in an effort to determine best practices and close any possible loopholes.

“We must address the crisis of confidence in our government by holding state leaders and employees to the highest of standards,” said State Senator Elgie R. Sims, Jr. (D-Chicago), who co-chairs the commission. “That includes, reviewing the rules and seeking input to find solutions which will hold bad actors who betray the public’s trust accountable.”

At the hearing, witnesses from the Secretary of State’s Office, Attorney General’s Office, Comptroller’s Office, Common Cause, Change Illinois, the Better Government Association and other advocacy groups testified.

The Executive Inspector General and Legislative Inspector’s General also participated in the hearing. The Executive Inspector General is an independent state agency that investigates misconduct of the executive branch and state agencies, such as the Department of Transportation, Department of Children and Family Services and Department of Agriculture. The Legislative Inspector’s General investigates complaints against members of the General Assembly and their employees.

The majority of the witnesses either must abide by the State Officials and Employee Ethics Act, or are responsible for enforcing it. For that reason, their input is crucial to bring light to any possible issues with the current ethics guidelines.

“It must be made known that individuals serving the state in any capacity will face consequences for breaking our ethics code,” said State Representative Greg Harris (D-Chicago), co-chair of the commission. “To truly restore the public’s faith in government, they need to know we are tightening our ethics and disclosure laws, including tougher enforcement.”