Michael McCuskey, Inspector General of the Illinois Legislative Assembly, is no longer accidental.
In the final weeks of spring session, an ex-federal judge from the central district in the state, 74, was overwhelmingly approved to serve a five-year full term as the watchdog for the legislative branch.
McCuskey was thrown into the role of the Secretary 15 months ago when he offered to be an alternative candidate after Democrats and Republicans left the position vacant for a short time while they argued over their preferred candidates.
After expressing her frustration that the LIG was not fully empowered, she vacated her office. She wasn’t the only one to voice her dissatisfaction. Tom Homer and another interim LIG have also publicly complained. They urged legislators to give this office more autonomy. They all agreed that the office should be able to issue subpoenas, and not need to consult a panel of former and current lawmakers to determine if reports of wrongdoing can be made public.
McCuskey, however, has not shared these frustrations. This could be the reason he was able to secure a full five-year tenure.
McCuskey is literally settling in Springfield, and plans to relocate to the city from his home just north of Peoria.
McCuskey’s first year may have been uneventful due to the “”effect.
He cannot reveal the types of complaints, but he said that there were 49 and that his office investigated 14 of those 49. McCuskey stated that he did not ask for permission from the ethics commission to publish reports about those complaints.
McCuskey said, “We had no allegations or complaints in my first year of office about fraud or corruption.” McCuskey told me that he believed it was due to recent ComEd trial or the Northern District of Illinois. “It’s been a quiet year.”
McCuskey, a former federal judge, says that he is aware that he will never be able to investigate corruption better than the feds of Chicago. McCuskey said that the Northern District is where corruption occurs and still does.
McCuskey, however, believes that he can do a better job by taking an active approach in preventing unethical behavior and bad conduct.
The Stratton Building, where his office is located in Springfield, is open seven days a week. They take regular calls and refer those who have concerns that are not related to the legislative branch to the appropriate authorities.
McCuskey stated that “everyone thinks our offices are so much larger than they really are.” “Our office is limited to the Legislature and their staff, and we have never been a prosecution. Visit our website to see what we do. It’s rewarding to be paid for helping people navigate the government. I like that I can help people, and also help them to avoid mistakes.
He added, “We often resolve things behind the scenes to prevent someone from making a mistake.”
Even so, the Capitol is far from perfect. Mary Flowers, a veteran state representative who has served in the legislature for many years, made headlines a few weeks back when House Speaker Chris Welch said he would remove her from leadership and deny her access to Democratic caucus meeting because of alleged inappropriate remarks and bullying behavior. It was also reported that a lawmaker had hurled an “F-bomb” at another.
McCuskey could not act on any of them. He does not have jurisdiction over private caucus meeting and the section of the that actually states, “A member may not be required to answer in any other tribunal in relation to any written or oral speech or debate in either house.” These immunity shall apply to proceedings of committees and legislative commissions.”
It’s sad, but it’s true.
McCuskey believes he can still make a positive impact with a proactive and preventive approach. He hopes to change the world by educating people on the statutory and ethical rules so that fewer people will make mistakes. “I’m trying to limit the number of bad apples to a minimum.” “You’ve been in government for long enough to realize that they are everywhere, both political parties included.”
What about those bad apples? The federal officials of Chicago will continue to chip away at the problem with their vast resources.
“I believe there was a difference in the Legislature’s perception of what is happening. McCuskey stated that “they should have been afraid of the Northern District.”
Madeleine Doubek, executive director of , is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that advocates for an ethical and efficient government.