SPRINGFIELD, IL — Statehouse Republicans are looking to make Illinois voters aware there is a power they can have to clean up government throughout the state – they just have to change the state constitution.
The state’s voters approved the limited recall of a governor state constitutional amendment ten years ago after the Blagojevich saga. A recall effort must meet a number of benchmarks.
State Sen. Jason Barickman, R-Bloomington, and state Rep. Mark Batinick, R-Plainfield, Tuesday proposed three constitutional amendments expanding recall to practically every elected office in the state of Illinois.
Batinick said one would simplify the recall provision for governor and expand it to all constitutional officers, including the Auditor General, Senate president and speaker of the House.
“The politicians need to start looking over their shoulder a little bit and when you have somebody like the speaker, who literally is not accountable to the people of the state, the people who have a lot of control over him, I think that that is a problem,” Batinick said.
Longtime Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan has held the post since 1983 for all but two years. Madigan has chaired the state Democratic party since 1998, giving him a nexus of political power by controlling how millions is spent on elections for Democrats who in turn support him every two years.
Madigan has also been implicated in a nearly ten-year-long bribery scheme, but has not been charged with a crime.
The Speaker of the House is elected by state Representatives. The Senate President is elected by members of the state Senate. Voters have little say. Another office voters don’t have a say on is the Auditor General. That’s selected by the legislature.
Along with the comptroller, treasurer, and attorney general, the first proposed amendment would require 12 percent of the number of votes cast for governor the preceding election for a recall election.
Another proposed amendment would allow voters to recall members of the legislature. That would require 12 percent of the number of votes cast for governor in that specific district.
A third would allow local elected officials to be recalled with a sliding scale of signatures needed, depending on the number of registered voters.
“We have an auditor general for years who has not explained his campaign finance violations,” Batinick said.
Auditor General Frank Mautino was found to have violated campaign finance law years ago from his time as a state legislator but there’s been little consequence. A civil case against Mautino is pending in the Illinois Supreme Court.
“We have a sitting state Senator that’s indicted,” Batinick said.
State Sen. Tom Cullerton, D-Villa Park, has pleaded not guilty to embezzling from a labor union in a pending case. He remains in the Senate, but former Senate President John Cullerton shift his chairmanship from the Labor Committee to the Veterans’ Affairs committee. The move allowed Tom Cullerton to keep his extra stipend.
“If you just Google ‘redlight camera’ and look at mayors, Google townships and look at corruption,” Batinick said, “so this is pervasive throughout government and the people of the state of Illinois deserve more power to recall these individuals when something bad happens.”
Barickman said other states’ voters have such power. Illinois should too.
“These rules can be changed,” Barickman said. “We can change them through the legislature as Representative Batinick and I have proposed here or they can be changed by a petition drive led by citizens.”
Proposed constitutional amendments through the legislature require three-fifths of each chamber before going to voters. That is if legislative leaders advance such measures.
The bar for citizen-led constitutional amendments is high and such amendments could face legal challenges.
Voters get to sound off on proposed changes to the state constitution every two years on a statewide ballot, if they’re certified. The most recent election had the proposed progressive income tax change lawmakers approved for the ballot. That was rejected by voters.