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Daily Journal
     February 13, 2020      #27-44 KDJ

Guest viewpoint from Rep. Parkhurst: Ethics reform

Lindsay Parkhurst

Arrests, FBI raids and federal indictments from a looming and broad federal investigation into Illinois corruption have shocked Illinois residents. Now, more than ever, is the time for true and lasting ethics reforms. With such an insurmountable challenge ahead, one might wonder where to begin. For me, it is simple. Ethics reform must start with fair maps.

Fair maps have lasting impact and positions our state to achieve real results for Illinois families and businesses. I supported a constitutional amendment to remove politicians from deciding the boundaries of their districts and instead use an independent commission to redraw the maps.

Now, there is a little over three months to pass a constitutional amendment referendum allowing the voters to weigh in on this issue in the upcoming general election. We must make redistricting reform a top priority this session in Springfield.

Ethics and redistricting reform go hand in hand. To move past Illinois’ culture of corruption, we cannot condone the same politically engineered maps that keep the same politicians and their closest allies in power for decades. Gerrymandered maps must be stopped and made part of our past and eliminated from our future.

Redistricting reform stops the culture of corruption by ensuring the voters decide who represents them in Springfield. Fair maps allow voters to pick their candidates and stops politicians from picking their voters. Redrawing the legislative map is an important step in cleaning up corruption and the mess it created for Illinois.

Legitimate, real ethics reform is the only way we can move forward as a state. My goal is to ensure ethics laws are improved to root out the corruption that, unfortunately, appears to be commonplace in Illinois. The dark cloud of a federal investigation into public corruption looms over Illinois; still, ethics legislation is sidestepped and not adopted.

I proudly supported the ethics package introduced by the House Republicans three months ago containing sweeping reform measures, including prohibiting lawmakers from being lobbyists, expanding statements of economic interest for lawmakers and requiring documentation of any communications between elected officials and state agencies. These are commonsense initiatives. The governor’s ethics task force continues to evaluate our current ethics laws, while the commonsense ethics reform package lingers without being called for a vote. This reform package should be the law, but it just sits unaddressed. The people of Illinois deserve an ethical state government and that, in my opinion, starts with fair maps.

Lindsay Parkhurst, R-Kankakee, is the 79th District state representative.

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