Batinick ‘stunned’ by lack of accountablity in Illinois Capitol
Rep. Mark Batinick (R-Plainfield) wants to amend the State Officials and Employees Ethics Act because he’s had enough of the bad behavior under the Capitol dome.
“The lack of accountability on all levels in this building is stunning,” Batnick said at a press conference on Tuesday announcing House Bill 4151, which he co-sponsored with Reps. Grant Wehrli (R-Naperville) and Keith Wheeler (R-North Aurora).
The bill provides new requirements for the composition, duration and responsibilities of appointees to the Legislative Ethics Commission. The bill also requires that the legislative inspector general have federal-level jurisdiction and ups the price of an ethical violation from $5,000 to $25,000.
“I want to say this isn’t just about sexual harassment,” Batinick said. “Whether it be the way we spend our money, sexual harassment, ethics or campaign finances, the lack of accountability is absolutely stunning.”
Batinick addressed his seat on the Legislative Audit Commission and the questionable behavior he has witnessed in his two-year service. He said the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative (NRI) scandal, which involved misconduct and misuse of taxpayer funds, is a good example.
“I believe it was the Violence Prevention Authority that handled the money for the NRI,” he said. “They moved it from the NRI to the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority (ICJA); both scandals were conflated into one. If you look at the people who are on the board of directors for ICJA, it’s a who’s who of Illinois politics.”
And it doesn’t stop there, according to Batinick, who said he has recently been made privy to even more questionable behavior.
“This morning I am in an Audit Commission meeting and I find out there is a law that requires us to do a report on the effectiveness of EDGE (Economic Development for a Growing Economy) credits annually, and I find out we have not done one of those reports since 2005,” Batinick said. “It would have been nice to know over the last 10 years all the money we have given to all those corporations was worth it.”
He said questionable campaign finances and the process of passing legislation is also unacceptable.
“You have a bill this thick plopped on your desk with only a couple of hours to review it,” Batinick said. “I don’t think any of those things are good government accountability.”
As for sexual harassment accusations that have come to light in recent days, Batiniick said that although he has not witnessed the harassment himself, it prompted him to co-sponsor HB 4151.
“This whole thing made me think of what my own code should be,” Batinick said. “If I see it first hand, I will report it.”