State ethics laws become focus of legislative panel

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A legislative panel in charge of cleaning up corruption in Illinois government was told more needs to be done to strengthen the state's ethics laws.

The joint committee on government reform heard testimony from several inspector generals representing such offices as the Illinois Attorney General, the comptroller, and Secretary of State. They all have suggestions on what needs to be done to improve the state's ethics laws. 

"So if we obtain information from another investigation, if we glean information from viewing documents, or if we hear something we cannot begin an investigation, we have to wait for a complaint and I believe that the ethics act should be changed so that we can commence investigation on our own prerogative," said Diane Saltoun, Inspector General, Illinois Attorney Generals Office.

There's also the issue of openness in the investigative process. In many cases, inspectors general can't discuss the results of an investigation

The issue of transparency, I think has been kind of a difficult issue for all of us because we can't speak to the issues that we're investigating and yet there's often times a great public discussion regarding those issues," said *cg 2line Michael Drake, Inspector General, Comptroller's Office.

The committee, which was set up in the wake of the Blagojevich scandal, is scheduled to hold weekly hearings thru March 31st with proposed reforms to be pushed through the legislature by the end of May. 

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