Gov. JB Pritzker said this morning that he supports the resignation of two Democratic state senators facing allegations of misconduct.
Sens. Emil Jones III of Chicago and Michael Hastings of Frankfort are both on the ballot in November, but with Jones facing federal bribery charges and domestic abuse allegations facing Hastings, the governor called for their outright resignations from the Senate and not just their leadership roles.
“Integrity is essential to public service, and corruption for personal gain and abuse in private or public is unacceptable," Pritzker said in a released statement, adding the two should have their day in court. "Illinoisans deserve to have elected leaders who are focused on representing them - not on holding office when facing serious and credible charges."
Jones, deputy majority leader and son of former Senate President Emil Jones Jr., is accused of taking a $5,000 bribe from a red light camera company for legislation he introduced in 2019. Jones is the sixth state senator to face federal corruption charges since 2019.
He has served as chair of the Senate Licensed Activities Committee and vice chair of the Public Safety Committee.
Senate President Don Harmon supported the resignation of leadership roles by Jones, but stopped short of calling for the resignation of he or Hastings from the Senate.
“These are grave allegations,” Harmon said in the statement regarding Jones III. “Members of the Senate and all public officials need to hold themselves to a high ethical standard for the public to have trust and faith in our work.”
Illinois Republicans had been particularly vocal on the lack of response from Pritzker and Harmon regarding Hastings, whose accusations of racial and gender discrimination saw the state spend nearly $150,000 to settle with a former staffer. He also faces allegations of domestic abuse from his ex-wife.
That "high ethical standard" referenced by Harmon was one the state GOP claimed is not being exhibited by Hastings, a former Senate Democratic majority caucus whip.
“What is this 'high ethical standard' in today's Democrat-controlled Senate?" said Illinois Republican Party Chairman Don Tracy in a statement. "Is everything short of a federal indictment and conviction ok? Senate President Harmon should call on Sen. Hastings and Sen. Jones III to resign.”
In response to the calls for his resignation, Hastings referred to the allegations as "baseless and without merit" and vowed to continue his campaign.
He is facing GOP challenger Patrick Sheehan of Lockport in the 19th Senate District race. Jones is running unopposed.
Contact Patrick Keck: 312-549-9340, email@example.com, twitter.com/@pkeckreporter
This article originally appeared on State Journal-Register: Illinois governor recommends resignation of two Democratic legislators