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Office of the Legislative Inspector General

Julie B. Porter, Acting Legislative Inspector General
1010 Davis Street
Evanston, IL 60201
(217) 558-1560 (phone)
(312) 724-8353 (fax)
JulieP@ilga.gov

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   On December 9, 2003, the Governor signed the State Officials and Employees Ethics Act, which officially created the Office of the Legislative Inspector General. The Office of the Legislative Inspector General receives and investigates complaints of violations of any law, rule, or regulation or abuse of authority or other forms of misconduct by members of the General Assembly and all state employees whose ultimate jurisdictional authority is a legislative leader, the Senate Operations Commission or the Joint Committee on Legislative Support Services. The Office of the Legislative Inspector General recognizes that the vast majority of state employees and officials are hardworking and honest individuals. However, when evidence of actual or apparent impropriety exists in state government, it must be effectively and objectively addressed either administratively or through the court system. Our goal is to heighten Illinois citizens' trust in the functions of their state government.

The Office of the Legislative Inspector General is obligated to maintain the confidentiality of individuals reporting any possible or alleged misconduct. Our statutory authority is found in the State Officials and Employees Ethics Act. 5 ILCS 430/1 et seq. (West Supp. 2003).

Below, we seek to answer frequently asked questions about how the Office of the Legislative Inspector General works.

What is jursidiction?

What type of conduct is within the Legislative Inspector General's jurisdiction?

How do I submit a complaint?

May I submit a complaint anonymously?

What happens when I submit a complaint?

What information will the Legislative Inspector General provide to complainants and subjects during an investigation?

What happens if the Legislative Inspector General finds a violation of the State Officials and Employees Ethics Act?

What happens if the Legislative Inspector General finds a different violation?

If the Legislative Inspector General finds a violation, will her findings be publicly available?

What are the consequences to the subject of the investigation if the Legislative Inspector General finds a violation?

What happens if the Legislative Inspector General finds that a complaint is not founded?

What is jursidiction?
Jurisdiction is a legal term that describes the authority that someone has to take official action. If a matter is within the Legislative Inspector General's jurisdiction, then that means she has the legal authority to request permission to open an investigation, to investigate the matter, and to reach conclusions. If a matter is not within the Legislative Inspector General's jurisdiction, then that means that she does not have the legal authority to examine the matter. It would not be appropriate for the Legislative Inspector General to open or investigate matters that are outside her jurisdiction. So, what is within the Legislative Inspector General's jurisdiction? According to the State Officials and Employees Ethics Act, the "Legislative Inspector General shall have jurisdiction over the current and former members of the General Assembly regarding events occurring during a member's term of office and current and former State employees regarding events occurring during any period of employment where the State employee's ultimate jurisdictional authority is (i) a legislative leader, (ii) the Senate Operations Commission, or (iii) the Joint Committee on Legislative Support Services." This means, in a nutshell, that the Legislative Inspector General may investigate matters relating to legislators and their staff, as well as employees of the Senate Operations Commission and the Joint Committee on Legislative Support Services. The Legislative Inspector General does NOT have jurisdiction over anything else. If, for example, you have a complaint about something occurring at an Illinois prison, or about a police department in Illinois, or a matter relating to the Illinois Secretary of State, the Legislative Inspector General cannot help you. There may be other places you can go for assistance (and a list is provided here), but the Legislative Inspector General will not be able to assist.
Click here for the Office of Executive Inspector General.

What type of conduct is within the Legislative Inspector General's jurisdiction?
The Legislative Inspector General has broad authority to investigate alleged wrongdoing. The State Officials and Employees Ethics Act provides: "The jurisdiction of each Legislative Inspector General is to investigate allegations of fraud, waste, abuse, mismanagement, misconduct, nonfeasance, misfeasance, malfeasance, or violations of this Act or violations of other related law and rules." Again, keep in mind that the Legislative Inspector General may only investigate such alleged wrongdoing by current and former members of the General Assembly and their staff, as well as employees of the Senate Operations Commission and the Joint Committee on Legislative Support Services.

How do I submit a complaint?
You may submit a complaint by filling out and submitting this form: Complaint Initiation Form. According to the State Officials and Employees Ethics Act, the identity of any individual providing information or reporting any possible or alleged misconduct to the Legislative Inspector General or the Legislative Ethics Commission shall be kept confidential and may not be disclosed without that individual's consent, unless the individual consents to disclosure of his or her name or disclosure of the individual's identity is otherwise required by law. When you submit a complaint, there is a form that you may sign if you consent to disclosure of your identity.

May I submit a complaint anonymously?
Yes. But if you do that, you deprive the Legislative Inspector General of the opportunity to obtain information from you, which could impact her ability fully to investigate your complaint. Also, if you do not provide your name and contact information, the Legislative Inspector General will not be able to communicate with you about the investigation.

What happens when I submit a complaint?
The Legislative Inspector General will evaluate whether your complaint is within her jurisdiction. If it is not, then the complaint will be closed. The Legislative Inspector General may, within her discretion, notify you that the matter was closed, but she is not required to do so. If the Legislative Inspector General determines that your complaint is within her jurisdiction, then in most instances, she will seek permission from the Legislative Ethics Commission to open an investigation. The Legislative Inspector General's requests to the Legislative Ethics Commission are confidential and do not include identifying information about complainants or subjects of investigation. The Legislative Ethics Commission meets approximately once a month and, among other matters, votes on the Legislative Inspector General's requests to open investigations. Sexual-harassment claims follow a slightly different process. If the Legislative Inspector General receives a sexual-harassment claim and concludes that it is within her jurisdiction, she may open the investigation without seeking the Legislative Ethics Commission's prior approval. If your investigation is opened, the Legislative Inspector General may, within her discretion, notify you that the matter has been opened, but she is not required to do so.

What information will the Legislative Inspector General provide to complainants and subjects during an investigation?
The Legislative Inspector General may, in her discretion, notify complainants and subjects of an investigation with an update on the status of the investigation, including when the investigation is opened and closed. This means that the Legislative Inspector General may provide both complainants and subjects with general notifications about the status of investigations. It does not mean, though, that the Legislative Inspector General is at liberty to provide you--whether you are a complainant or a subject--with details about the investigation. She cannot. This may be frustrating to you. For example, if you submit a complaint to the Legislative Inspector General, you might be very interested in what investigation she is doing, what she is learning, and what her conclusions are about the evidence. But all of that information--by law--is confidential, and the Legislative Inspector General cannot disclose it to you. Making a complaint to the Office of the Legislative Inspector General is not like bringing a private lawsuit; it is not complainant vs. subject. The purpose of having a Legislative Inspector General is not to vindicate individual complainants' rights; it is to ensure that a fair, impartial investigator is available to vet potential wrongdoing and-if it occurred-hold the subject accountable, as a way of promoting and protecting the institution's integrity. So, if you bring a complaint, you should understand up front that although the Legislative Inspector General may choose to keep you generally apprised of the matter's progress, she is not allowed to give you detailed, substantive information about the investigation, all of which is confidential. And if you are a subject of the Legislative Inspector General's investigation, the same is true for you.

What happens if the Legislative Inspector General finds a violation of the State Officials and Employees Ethics Act?
If the Legislative Inspector General finds a violation of the State Officials and Employees Ethics Act, she writes a founded summary report, explaining the basis for her conclusion. That report, along with the Legislative Inspector General's recommendation, is submitted to the subject and to the subject's ultimate jurisdictional authority, both of whom are required to respond in writing to the Legislative Inspector General within 20 days. The Legislative Inspector General then has 30 days to notify the Legislative Ethics Commission and the Attorney General if the Legislative Inspector General believes a complaint should be filed with the Commission. A complaint might be filed with the Commission if, for example, there is disagreement about the Legislative Inspector General's findings or what should be the appropriate discipline. Matters are sometimes resolved without the need for filing a complaint with the Commission. The State Officials and Employees Ethics Act describes in detail the process that is followed if a complaint is submitted to the Commission.

What happens if the Legislative Inspector General finds a different violation?
If the Legislative Inspector General determines that the subject has violated something other than the State Officials and Employees Ethics Act, she writes a founded summary report, explaining the basis for her conclusion. That report, along with the Legislative Inspector General's recommendation, is submitted to the subject and to the subject's ultimate jurisdictional authority, both of whom are required to respond in writing to the Legislative Inspector General within 20 days. There are no further proceedings in such a situation. For instance, in a scenario where there is no violation of the State Officials and Employees Ethics Act, but the Legislative Inspector General finds some other violation, the Legislative Inspector General would not be able to bring a complaint before the Legislative Ethics Commission, because the Commission only has authority to consider violations of the State Officials and Employees Ethics Act.

If the Legislative Inspector General finds a violation, will her findings be publicly available?
According to the State Officials and Employees Ethics Act, within 60 days after receipt of a summary report and response from the ultimate jurisdictional authority or agency head that resulted in a suspension of at least three days or termination of employment, the Legislative Ethics Commission shall make available to the public the report and response or a redacted version of the report and response. The Legislative Ethics Commission may make available to the public any other summary report and response of the ultimate jurisdictional authority or agency head or a redacted version of the report and response. This means that the Legislative Ethics Commission is required to release publicly any founded summary reports that resolute in someone being fired or suspended for at least three days. The Legislative Ethics Commission has discretion, and will take a vote, on making other summary reports publicly available.

What are the consequences to the subject of the investigation if the Legislative Inspector General finds a violation?
It depends on the violation. Some violations of the State Officials and Employees Ethics Act are criminal misdemeanors. Some violations carry the imposition of fines. For other types of violations, there are no stated consequences in the relevant statutes. The practice of the Acting Legislative Inspector General is to seek publication of all founded summary reports so that the public can access and understand the allegations, what investigation was conducted, and the Legislative Inspector General's conclusions.

What happens if the Legislative Inspector General finds that a complaint is not founded?
If the Legislative Inspector General completes her investigation and finds that a complaint is not founded, she writes a report to the Legislative Ethics Commission notifying the Commission that she is closing the investigation. The Commission has the discretion to request that the Legislative Inspector General conduct further investigation of any matter closed, or to refer the allegations to the Attorney General for further review or investigation. The Legislative Inspector General's closing reports to the Legislative Ethics Commission are confidential. Under the law, they cannot be publicly released. The Legislative Inspector General may, but is not required to, notify complainants when an investigation is closed. The Legislative Inspector General may also notify the subject of an investigation when an investigation is closed. If the subject so requests, the Legislative Inspector General must provide the subject with a written statement concerning the decision to close the investigation.