Bailey ready to tackle corruption in state politics
State Rep.-elect Darren Bailey says he hopes he brewing scandal involving Chicago Ald. Ed Burke serves as a teaching moment for state lawmakers everywhere.
“I think it sends the message that Illinois is finally ready to start holding its leaders accountable,” Bailey told the SE Illinois News. “A big part of my campaign platform was about getting rid of some of this corruption and bringing integrity back to state government.”
Bailey, a Republican from Xenia, said the fact that he was elected to represent the 109th District with over 75 percent of the vote speaks volumes about how desperate voters are for something different.
“This whole Burke situation is an example of the kind of shenanigans that have so many voters frustrated to the point of putting their hands up and walking away from the whole system of government,” he said.
Federal investigators recently moved to slap Burke with extortion charges, outlining an ongoing scheme in which he is alleged to have shaken down the owners of a fast food establishment in his 14th Ward for $10,000 that was earmarked for the mayoral campaign fund of Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.
According to the Chicago Tribune, the charges also include allegations that Burke regularly used his power as a city lawmaker and as chairman of the city’s powerful Finance Committee—and control of the city’s $100 million-a-year workers' compensation program—to steer business to his private law firm.
“I’m not at all surprised by much of it,” Bailey added. “Up until now, I think corruption has largely defined state government here in Illinois. I’m hoping this also sends the message to voters that they have to careful about who they elect and install as their leaders.”
Beyond that, Bailey said he is optimistic that things may really be about to change.
“I think this new group of legislators headed to Springfield will spend a lot of time speaking out about some of the things that they see that aren’t right and that will lead to voters demanding better,” he said.
The 109th House District includes all or part of Clay, Edwards, Effingham, Jasper, Lawrence, Richland, Wabash, Wayne and White counties.