CHICAGO (CBS) – Illinois State Senator Emil Jones III (D-Chicago) has been charged with a bribe to oppose legislation that would require the evaluation of traffic light camera systems statewide.
As reported by CBS 2 political investigator Dana Kozlov, Jones has been in office since 2009. Now he is facing what could mean the end of his political career.
The 44-year-old MP sits in the federal seat on charges of taking bribes in exchange for his promise to “go against a law that required an investigation” of red light cameras outside of Chicago.
“He is the eleventh Democrat – a high-ranking Democrat in the state government – to have been indicted by the federal government in the past 10 years,” said Republicans leader in the Illinois State House Jim Durkin (R-Westchester).
Out of these eleven, one other, state senator Martin Sandoval, pleaded guilty to similar allegations of bribing cameras in 2020. Sandoval died from COVID-19 a few months later.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office said on Tuesday that Jones himself presented Senate Bill 1297 in February 2019 – which would require the Illinois Department of Transportation to conduct a state-wide examination of red light cameras and other automated traffic enforcement systems and propose any IDOT changes deemed necessary.
Five months later, Jones said he would protect one particular red light camera from his own legislation, prosecutors said. In return for a bribe, Jones said he would oppose the IDOT study of red light camera systems outside of Chicago and limit such research to the city, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors did not mention the name of the red light company, but SafeSpeed issued a statement late Tuesday indicating that one of its former associates was involved.
Prosecutors say the bribe demanded from a person associated with a red light camera seller was $ 5,000 for Jones and a job for one of his associates. Jones said if a red light vendor donated $ 5,000 sponsoring the event, it would not have to be listed in the Illinois campaign donation reports, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors said the person who was asked for a bribe by Jones did indeed cooperate with law enforcement.
In addition, Jones was charged with lying to the FBI on the case, prosecutors said.
“It’s very embarrassing. And you know what? I’m proud of my office and I believe it – my oath and what it means, ”Durkin said.
SafeSpeed made this statement:
“SafeSpeed’s goal has always been to provide services that help save lives. As new developments in federal investigations come to light, SafeSpeed remains both shocked and saddened that one of his former colleagues was involved in criminal activities and recruited outsiders to help with their activities were clearly in their own right interests and were performed without the knowledge of SafeSpeed and undermined the important work that SafeSpeed is doing.
“The criminal activities of several people do not and should not reflect the value and integrity of SafeSpeed, its employees and customers. SafeSpeed has built its business on integrity and ethics and commits its employees and representatives to the highest standards of conduct and ethics. SafeSpeed has long since terminated all contacts with a former colleague and his colleagues.
SafeSpeed remains committed to continuing to help Illinois municipalities improve road safety. SafeSpeed fully supports the federal government’s investigation of corruption in the public and will continue to support their efforts in every way possible.
Jones is the son of former Illinois Senate President Emil Jones Jr. The now retired former lawmaker made the following statement regarding his son on Tuesday afternoon:
“The charges brought against my son, Emil Jones III, do not reflect what a human being he is. Everyone knows he is an honest, hardworking legislator.
“I’m going to fight him and accompany him through this whole process.”
Illinois Senate President Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) made the following statement:
“I have asked for Senator Jones to resign from his leadership and chairmanship position, and I expect to receive his resignation.
“These are serious allegations. Senate members and all public officials must adhere to high ethical standards in order for the public to have confidence and faith in our work. ”
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