Illinois Rep. Dan Caulkiins says the controversy around the legislative attendance of Democratic state Sen. Patricia Van Pelt shows how badly ethics reform is needed in Springfield.
Since Van Pelt no longer takes part in the legislative process but has refused to resign from office, Senate Majority Leader Don Harmon can't appoint a replacement for the District 5 seat and its more than 218,000 residents. According to a report by the Chicago City Wire, sources claim they didn’t see Van Pelt cast a single floor vote or take part in any committee hearings during the legislative session. Critics say Democrats haven't pushed for the seat to be filled, since with their 40-19 supermajority, they don't need Van Pelt's vote.
"We’ve been pushing for ethics reform and this is another example of why those kinds of changes are needed," Caulkins told the Chambana Sun. "It’s also another example of why Democrats have stood so opposed. They don’t want to sit anything up that may impact them and hold them accountable."
According to reports, Van Pelt has been unable to join her Senate colleagues in Springfield due to medical issues, though she continued to give speeches as a life coach under the name "Dr. Pat."
Caulkins doesn't take issue with Van Pelt's career outside of politics, but he does seek better accountability from those in office.
"I want the kinds of reforms in Springfield that we have been pushing for a while now, where all lawmakers are being held accountable for what they do," he said.
Van Pelt's term runs through 2027. The District includes many of the city's highest-income neighborhoods, such as parts of the West Loop and Fulton Market District, Lincoln Park, Old Town, Wicker Park, Bucktown, River West, Little Italy, University Village, Tri-Taylor and the Illinois Medical District.
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