State Representative Grant Wehrli (R-Naperville) has been appointed to serve on the newly created Joint Commission on Ethics and Lobbying Reform. Wehrli has long been an outspoken voice in the General Assembly demanding action to reform Illinois’ outdated ethics laws, which have come under increasing scrutiny in the wake of several federal corruption investigations.
“Illinois government has been tainted by corruption for too long and continued inaction is unacceptable, the people of Illinois deserve more from their elected officials,” said Wehrli. “Yes, I’m frustrated that it took this long to put something in place to address our broken ethics laws. Yes, I’m concerned that the commission’s makeup skews representation in favor of the majority party. However, this in an opportunity to show that Illinois government is truly interested in working for the people.”
House Joint Resolution 93, which created the Joint Commission on Ethics and Lobbying Reform, was passed by both chambers of the General Assembly at the end of veto session last week. The sixteen member commission is required to a deliver a final report for legislative action to reform the state’s ethics laws by March 31, 2020. However, as Wehrli noted, the commission skews membership in favor of the majority party Democrats, with only six spots being guaranteed for Republicans and assigning commission chair posts to Democrats as well. This point was hotly contested by Republicans during debate on the measure last week. The March 31 report deadline also conveniently falls after the 2020 primary election, another point of concern expressed during floor debate.
“The commission can prove its intent to work in the best interests of the people by offering comprehensive reforms that finally hold elected officials accountable. That has to be the starting position,” said Wehrli. “I hope my fellow commission members will take that firm stance with me so we can finally remove the pervasiveness of corruption and recommend serious ethics reforms. More window dressing won’t restore the sense of trust the public deserves.”
Wehrli, having previously filed several pieces of ethics reform legislation, such as House Bill 361, and co-sponsoring many others, hopes to see the commission give serious consideration to those proposals already put forward, in addition to other new ones.