By: Tim Jones
Come election time, it’s popular for Illinois Republicans and Democrats, when political circumstances suit them, to clamor for the state’s top lawyer to investigate corruption—almost always, to no avail.
But a few weeks ago, Democratic Attorney General Lisa Madigan began investigating the Rauner administration over how it handled a spate of Legionnaires’ Disease-related deaths at the state home for veterans in Quincy.
And the GOP cried foul.
Even though 14 people have died, and WBEZ news reports show the Rauner administration waited nearly a week to notify the public about the initial outbreak, the Quincy case vividly illustrates why laws in Illinois and almost all other states make it very difficult for elected attorneys general to lead the very anti-corruption crusades partisans often call for.
Yet candidates often cannot resist taking up the cudgel of anti-corruption, sometimes identifying their targets by name.
“If I say, ‘Elect me and I’ll go after Donald Trump or Speaker (Mike) Madigan or Jared Kushner,’ anyone who says that is absolutely wrong,” said James Tierney, former attorney general of Maine and now a lecturer at Harvard Law School. “That is the opposite of what our criminal justice system is supposed to be about.”
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