Lack of Illinois Legislative Inspector General Leaves 3 Years of Complaints Uninvestigated

As allegations of misconduct against Illinois lawmakers continue to emerge, a new revelation indicates some of those claims may escape not only penalty, but even an investigation.

For the past three years, Illinois has not had a legislative inspector general in office. In that time, 27 complaints have been filed, but not acted upon.

But now, there is a new urgency to hire someone, as there is a statute of limitations on when an investigation can be conducted into complaints about lawmakers' behavior.

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

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

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

And with more and more headlines coming out about harassment in Springfield, legislators on both sides of the aisle want action.

"We're going make some demands and hopefully they will be met," state Rep. Sara Feigenholtz (D-Chicago) said.

"I'm not saying that names are not going to come out. I think that that’s inevitable, but I really want to stay focused on fixing this." she added.

State Rep. Jeanne Ives, now a Republican candidate for governor, blamed the leaders for leaving the office open.

"You have to have leaders that enforce and model good behavior and nip it in the bud when they see it. And when it comes forward, they confront it right away and they tell their staff: we will not tolerate this," she said.

"You have got to have a way for people to process a complaint and get resolution on it," she continued.

Lawmakers now say they'll soon agree to hire an inspector general - but that will be just the first step, as whoever takes the role will have a lot of work to catch up on.

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