Illinois Lawmakers Select New Legislative Inspector General

Under intense pressure, Illinois lawmakers planned to meet by conference Saturday call in a rare weekend session to select a new legislative inspector general.

Former Assistant United States Attorney Julie Porter, who was the recommended candidate for the position, was ultimately named as the state's new legislative inspector general, a position that has been vacant since 2013. 

Porter served as the Asst. U.S. Attorney in Chicago, and her credentials were touted by several leaders after the announcement was made. 

"Julie Porter has a proven record of fighting public corruption as the Assistant United States Attorney," State Sen. Cristina Castro said in a statement. "She has extensive experience seeking justice for the poeple of Illinois." 

Porter's appointment comes on the heels of a shocking revelation that at least 27 misconduct complaints have been filed in the state, but none had been investigated as an inspector general was not in place. 

The lack of a legislative inspector general for such a long period of time could prove disastrous, as it may have allowed lawmakers to not only escape a penalty, but an investigation as well. 

State Sen. Karen McConnaughay (R-St. Charles) pointed out Wednesday that the legislative ethics commission has a one-year statute of limitations on conducting investigations into complaints.

"An investigation may not be initiated more than one year after the most recent act of the alleged violation," Illinois law reads - meaning some of those claims may never be examined at all.

Next week, lawmakers are slated to return to Springfield for a second veto session. The Illinois State Senate will also conduct a sex harassment training session for its members on Thursday - with some advocates in favor of extending that training to lobbyists and staffers as well.

The effort to take on misconduct in Springfield comes in the wake of a bombshell New York Times report in October that revealed allegations of predatory behavior from disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein.

Countless women took to social media to join the #MeToo movement in the weeks following the exposé, declaring that they had also been victims of harassment or assault.

Joining that chorus was a group of women working in Illinois politics who penned an open letter on a culture of misogyny that signers said is pervasive in Springfield and beyond.

That letter and its momentum - happening in statehouses across the country - has led to proposals to improve harassment policies and training, as well as calls for action from both sides of the aisle.

A public allegation of harassment was made against state Sen. Ira Silverstein (D-Chicago) on Wednesday, with his accuser saying that a complaint was filed to the empty inspector general's office nearly a year ago.

Silverstein ultimately was forced to resign his leadership position in the Democratic party as a result of the allegations. 

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