Unfortunately, the state of Illinois does not have a sterling reputation when it comes to government corruption. Six Illinois governors have been charged with crimes during or after their administrations. Four chief executives were convicted, and one of our recent governors was the first to be impeached and removed from office.
According to political scientist and former Chicago alderman Dick Simpson, more than 1,000 public officials and business people from Illinois have been convicted in federal corruption cases since 1971.
It is these embarrassing statistics that Illinois attorney general candidate Sharon Fairley wants to eliminate. Appointed to head the Independent Police Review Authority following release of dashcam video showing a black teenager killed by a white Chicago police officer six seconds after arriving on the scene, Fairley knows what it takes to get thrown in the middle of a crisis, rebuild public trust and create a best in class agency that is accountable to the people it serves.
“When creating the Civilian Office of Police Accountability we worked to change the culture by designing an agency that attracted new people, created new processes for oversight and investigation, and increased resources,” explains Fairley.
As a former federal prosecutor, assistant attorney general and city inspector general Fairley believes the state’s next attorney general has to be more proactive in rooting out public corruption.
“I would seek to expand the ability of the office to focus on state and local government corruption in Illinois,” says Fairley. “I will be an attorney general who’s independent and fearless in challenging abuses of power, regardless of political party.”
Fairley will focus on the follow areas:
· Provide additional resources to the current Government Integrity Bureau to lead the office’s efforts in this area
· Work to introduce revisions to the statute governing the Illinois Legislative Ethics Commission and Legislative Inspector General
· Establish and publicize a complaint line for individuals to call to report allegations of misconduct by public officials or government agency employees
· Coordinate with the state’s attorneys to ensure that any public corruption and police misconduct prosecutions in which the state’s attorney has a conflict of interest are referred to the office for prosecution to the extent permissible by law
· Work with law enforcement to establish a statewide public integrity task force to ensure that local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies can coordinate activities and share strategies and tactics for investigating public corruption matters
· Create and promulgate a policy and legislative agenda intended to strengthen the checks and balances in place that hold public officials accountable
· Continue to work toward an open and transparent Illinois government and ensure government agencies meet their obligations under the Freedom of Information and Open Meetings Acts.