Republican legislators take aim at conflict of interest for Illinois State Board of Elections

File legislation prohibiting board members from funding PACs

As allegations of government corruption continue to plague the Statehouse, Republican legislators including State Senators Dan McConchie (R-Hawthorn Woods) and Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington) and State Representatives Tim Butler (R-Springfield) and Mark Batinick (R-Plainfield), announced new legislation during a press conference at the Capitol on November 13 that aims to ensure members of the Illinois State Board of Elections aren’t funding political action committees.

“Under current state law, a person can serve as a member of the Illinois State Board of Elections while at the same time run a political action committee that benefits candidates. Not only is this allowed, it’s currently happening,” said Sen. McConchie. “Common sense would dictate that no member of the State Board of Elections should be allowed to fund a campaign while simultaneously presiding over and judging legal matters regarding that campaign. It’s an inherent conflict of interest and yet another loophole in state law that enables government corruption—something that is all too familiar in Illinois.”

“The fact that a member of the State Board of Elections can run a political committee and also sit on the board that determines if a political committee has broken the law is an obvious conflict of interest,” said Rep. Butler. “Closing this loophole and preventing other potential conflicts that could place a board member in an ethically questionable situation is common sense, good government, and we hope our colleagues on the other side of the aisle will help us advance this legislation.”

“This is another situation where it looks like we have the fox guarding the henhouse,” said Sen. Barickman. “Closing this loophole should be an easy vote, and an obvious step in the process of trying to restore the public’s confidence in their government.”

“With the recent arrests and indictments handed down in state government, this is the latest ethics change that needs to be made to ensure that our legislative process is ethically sound,” said Rep. Batinick. “In our effort to reform state ethics, we need to look at the very first step in governing, which is elections. This bill will help ensure that there isn’t a conflict of interest unduly influencing the election process.”

On Nov. 12, Sen. McConchie filed Senate Bill 2300, which would prohibit a member of the State Board of Elections from also contributing to or being an officer of a state or federal political committee. The bill also lays out the process by which members of the State Board of Elections must resign from political committees:

  • A member of the State Board of Elections serving as an officer of a political committee must resign from that committee within 30 days of his/her appointment confirmation in the Senate.
  • Any current State Board of Elections member has 30 days from the effective date to resign as an officer from any political committee.

Rep. Butler also filed similar legislation in the House (House Bill 3963).

Senate Bill 2300 and House Bill 3963 come on the heels of several other ethics reform measures Republican legislators are urging the General Assembly to consider in an effort to clean up Springfield.

Dan McConchie

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