CHICAGO (CBS) — Governor Rauner said state ethics laws do not give the official investigating sexual harassment complaints against lawmakers enough power or independence.
Governor Rauner complains that newly appointed Special Legislative Inspector General Julie Porter cannot begin an investigation without permission from the Ethics Commission that hired her. WBBM’s Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports.
“They have to get approval for what they investigate, there is a lot of control with the legislature about what they can investigate. This is wrong. There should be complete independence,” he said.
Special Legislative Inspector General Julie Porter said that if she gets a complaint about sexual harassment, or some other wrongdoing against a state lawmaker, she is not legally authorized to take action on her own.
“I am required to access that complaint, determine whether it’s in my jurisdiction and if I think it is appropriate to investigate, I bring that before the Commission and they can either authorize me to proceed or not,” she said.
She tells WBBM she must also get permission to subpoena someone, and can only present her findings when an investigation is over. The Commissions decides on punishment, if any.
The Governor said the laws are too restrictive, and the IG should be more independent.
“There should be complete independence, complete confidentiality, complete ability to unilaterally do whatever he/she decides needs to be investigated,” he said.
But, Julie Porter said she has no reason to believe the Legislative Ethics Commission would impede her work.
Some lawmakers and watchdog groups agree with the Governor, saying that the Legislative IG should have more independence and authority in the law.
Julie Porter is the guest on WBBM’s At Issue program this weekend and you can hear more of her thoughts Sunday evening at 9:30 p.m.