Democrat Governor Requests Sudden Resignations

( Recently, the Democratic governor of Illinois called on two fellow Democratic members of the state Senate to resign amid various allegations of wrongdoing.

Late last week, Governor J.B. Pritzker said that state Senators Emil Jones III and Michael Hastings should both resign from their posts.

Jones was charged recently with lying to federal agents and bribery. He was arraigned last Friday in U.S. District Court for those crimes. During the arraignment, he pleaded not guilty to those charges.

Hastings hasn’t been charged with any crimes at this point, though he’s been accused of mistreating state employees and abusing his wife.

Jones hasn’t commented publicly about his crime, nor the governor’s demands that he resign from his post. Hastings, however, issued a statement saying he wouldn’t resign, and that the allegations against him are “baseless and without merit.”

The two state senators have resigned from leadership positions they once held within the Illinois Democratic Party. Jones also stepped down from his role as vice chair of the Public Safety Committee and as chair of the Licensed Activities Committee. Don Harmon, the state Senate president, requested that he do so.

At this point, Hastings is still serving as the chair of the Energy and Public Utilities Committee in the state Senate.

Pritzker said more needed to be done, though, to punish the two senators. He explained recently:

“In the best interests of their constituents, these men must resign from their offices. Resigning only their leadership roles falls short of what the public should expect. I want to send a clear message to the people of Illinois: corruption and abuse have no place here.”

Many believe that Pritzker is now taking this hard stance against two members of his own party due to the fact that he is facing a stiff challenge for re-election in the midterms. His opponent in that race, Republican state Senator Darren Baily, has used the Hastings allegations and the Jones charges as part of his campaign.

Jones is still seeking re-election this fall despite his charges, and he’s unopposed for the position. Hastings, meanwhile, is up against Republican challenger Patrick Sheehan for his seat.

Last Tuesday, Jones was charged with accepting bribes that would’ve changed a 2019 proposal to require red light cameras undergo state traffic studies. During an investigation, prosecutors at the federal level say they found evidence that Jones told one of the leaders of SafeSpeed LLC that he’d protect him as well as the company from pending legislation that dealt with the cameras, as long as they provided a job for someone he chose and also paid him $5,000.

If convicted on the felony charges that he faces, Jones could spend 20 years behind bars. After last Friday’s arraignment, Jones was released on a $10,000 unsecured bond that included conditions that the court set.

His lawyers, Zeke Katz and Reggie Harris, commented after the arraignment:

“The senator respectfully asks the public not to rush to judgment. Ours is a legal system founded upon the principle that persons accused of crimes are innocent unless and until proven guilty by competent evidence and beyond a reasonable doubt.”