Rotheimer sees Madigan effort to remove Drury from ballot as move to protect political machine
Rep. Scott Drury (D-Highwood), who has been critical of House Speaker Mike Madigan (D-Chicago) in the wake of a sexual-harassment controversy in Madigan's office, is now paying the price as he runs for attorney general, according to a local victim's rights advocate.
A month before the March primary election -- and after Drury refused to vote for Madigan to remain House Speaker -- a Cook County Circuit judge ruled to remove Drury from the ballot, but Drury fought the decision and was able to remain in the race.
Denise Rotheimer, a victim’s rights advocate who has filed an ethics charge against Sen. Ira Silverstein (D-Chicago), believes that Madigan's efforts are part of a pattern of protecting what she called the “political machine” in Springfield.
“The leaders in Springfield, including but not limited to Madigan, vigorously seek to silence the statements of others who are not part of the political machine as a measure to preserve their position of power that gives them control of our legislature,” Rotheimer recently told the Lake County Gazette. “When private citizens who are taxpayers file a complaint against leaders like Madigan ... or even Silverstein for ethics violations, those citizens are deprived of having any rights throughout the process. Complainants are silenced and excluded from participating in the ethics process because the statute is designed to protect the accused.”
Rotheimer pointed out that those who violate the State Officials and Employees Ethics Act (SOEEA) are judged by their peers on the legislative ethics commission (LEC), and that ethics complaints are excluded from Freedom of Information Act requests, making them opaque to the public.
“Since the inception of the SOEEA in 2004, not one legislator was found to be in violation of this statute, which is exclusively under the jurisdiction of the LEC,” Rotheimer said. “The only two legislators, former State Sen. Suzi Schmidt and Sen. Ira I. Silverstein, whose complaints were (found legitimate) by the legislative inspector general (LIG) occurred under the Illinois Governmental Ethics Act (IGEA)."
Rotheimer points out that that the statute governs the code of conduct for elected officials and is excluded from the LEC's jurisdiction.
"The code of conduct for elected officials does not prescribe any form of penalty in the law to enforce it," she said. "However, the LEC retains its authority to consent to the LIG's recommendation to publish the findings of a founded violation under the IGEA. Clearly based on the ethics statutes, our elected officials never intended to provide the electorate with a fair process to object to their misconduct and unlawful behavior.”
The behavior of elected officials, Rotheimer said, is unacceptable.
“I find these deceptive and malicious tactics completely unacceptable and unethical,” Rotheimer said. “Anyone who voices criticism against the corrupt practices by elected officials in Springfield should be fearful of being blacklisted and retaliated, because no one in Springfield has the backbone to speak the truth because of the risk of losing their own re-election.”
When asked what the limits of criticism toward the legislature should be, Rotheimer defended the right of citizens to speak their minds.
“There is no limit on the amount of proper criticism against Republicans or Democrats when the opposing candidates base their statements on facts,” she said. “The public has a right to know the truth.”