Democratic state senator Emil Jones III resigned his leadership and committee chairman position on Wednesday, the day after he was brought on federal bribery charges, which pushed public corruption back to the center as Governor JB Pritzker and his fellow Democrats struggle to keep control of the government state in the November elections.

During the Wednesday morning campaign on the Far Northwest Side, Pritzker sought to portray the pervasive political corruption in Illinois as a cross-party problem rather than endemic to Democrats.

“We’ve seen Democrats and Republicans across the state get into trouble for failing to meet public service standards that require integrity,” Pritzker told reporters. “So it is disappointing, terribly disappointing, and reminds us all that all the ethical work that we are doing on the new ethical regulations must continue, that it is not something you do and do.”

Pritzker pointed to the ethical changes he signed after previous scandals as proof that Democrats took the issue seriously, although good government groups criticized the efforts as half-measures. The measure she signed last year resulted in the resignation of a top legislature that said it had made her office a “paper tiger”.

Pritzker has not called on Jones to resign from his Senate seat for $ 72,906 a year, a point for his Republican opponent in the November 8 election, Xenia’s Senator Darren Bailey, noted in a Twitter post on Wednesday.

“When are we going to start taking anti-corruption laws seriously?” Bailey wrote. JB should have demanded Senator Jones resign, but he will not. Pritzker hides from responsibility for the party and administration. I don’t care what party you belong to, it’s time to clean the house in Springfield.

Federal charges against Jones claim he took a $ 5,000 bribe from the director of the red light company to block the unfavorable law and then lied to the FBI. These are the latest in a series of corruption charges and convictions against current and former state democratic lawmakers and political activists, including a landmark indictment in March for former Illinois House of Representatives chairman Michael Madigan, longtime president of the state’s Democratic Party, on charges of bribery and racketeering.

Jones of Chicago has served on the Senate since 2009, taking the seat previously occupied by his father, former Senate president Emil Jones Jr., Madigan’s longtime Senate counterpart and sometimes political opponent.

Younger Jones, due to be indicted on Friday, has been charged in the criminal record, not the indictment, indicating he may plead guilty.

In addition to resigning from his unpaid position as deputy leader of the Senate Democrats, Jones resigned as chairman of the Senate Licensed Activities Commission and unpaid vice chairman of the Public Safety Commission. Senate President Don Harmon, according to the Oak Park Democrat letters to the Senate Secretary.

Jones is the ninth sitting or recent member of the General Assembly charged with federal crimes since Pritzker took office in January 2019, with the exception of one Democrat. On this list are five former Senate colleagues – Democrats Martin Sandoval, Thomas Cullerton, Terry Link and Annazette Collins, and Republican Sam McCann – along with Madigan and former Democratic Representatives Luis Arroyo and Eddie Acevedo.

The Tribune reported that two other Democrats – State Senator Elgie Sims of Chicago and State Representative Thaddeus Jones of Calumet City – are under federal investigation.

And that doesn’t include the list of local officials and political activists who have been charged since the extensive corruption investigation was made public with the September 24, 2019 federal raid on Sandoval’s Springfield office.

When asked about examples of recent political corruption among Illinois GOP officials, Pritzker reelection campaign responded with a list that included the conviction of former Bloomingdale Township Highway commissioner Robert Czernk, who pleaded guilty in March to accepting $ 282,000 in bribes, and the resignation of a former county coroner last year Winnebago, who confessed to committing crimes, including government theft and professional misconduct.

The list also included a member of the City Council in lower Paris, who was arrested in 2020 on suspicion of s*xual assault and abuse, and two GOP Senate employees accused of misdemeanor the same year for allegedly resisting after they were found. Beer drinkers in the Illinois Capitol.

dpetrella@chicagotribune.com

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