Pritzker calls on Democratic Sens. Hastings and Jones III to resign

The Illinois State Capitol.
The Illinois State Capitol.(Source: Gray TV)
Published: Sep. 22, 2022 at 4:03 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD (WGEM) - “Corruption and abuse have no place here.”

That’s the message from Gov. JB Pritzker to two Democratic senators recently accused of misconduct.

Sen. Michael Hastings (D-Tinley Park) is accused of domestic abuse with his estranged wife and harassment of his former chief of staff. The Executive Director of the Illinois Environmental Council also came forward to tell reporters that Hastings was hostile towards her during negotiations on energy bills he sponsored.

Sen. Emil Jones III (D-Chicago), the son of former Senate President Emil Jones Jr., was indicted Tuesday for allegedly accepting bribes to change a proposal in 2019 that required state traffic studies for red light cameras. Federal prosecutors found that Jones told a leader from SafeSpeed that he would protect the company and the individual from legislation concerning the red-light cameras in exchange for $5,000 and a job for another individual.

Sen. Emil Jones III talks to reporters on January 19, 2020.
Sen. Emil Jones III talks to reporters on January 19, 2020.(Mike Miletich)

“Senator Jones is accused of accepting bribes. And Senator Hastings is accused of abusing women,” Pritzker said Thursday. “They should answer the charges and have their day in court. But in the best interests of their constituents, these men must resign from their offices.”

Jones and Hastings have resigned their leadership roles in the chamber. Hastings left his role as the Senate Democratic Majority Whip on Aug. 17 following reports of the alleged domestic abuse. Although, Hastings planned to move forward as the chair of the powerful Energy and Public Utilities Committee.

Jen Walling, Executive Director of the Illinois Environmental Council, said recent coverage of Hastings shows a clear record of angry and violent behavior in his personal and work life. Walling noted that she took a risk to come forward and document her concerns about the senator and how he mistreated her, but she stressed that the Illinois Capitol must be a safe working environment for everyone.

“I have heard from many others with similar stories who are terrified by possible consequences of coming forward,” Walling said. “I am grateful for the public support of Governor Pritzker and want to echo his call for Senator Hastings to resign and be removed from any positions of power in the Capitol, such as the role of Committee Chair.”

Sen. Michael Hastings talks during floor debate in Springfield.
Sen. Michael Hastings talks during floor debate in Springfield.(Mike Miletich)

Walling encouraged other senators to support the call for resignation and help anyone else who comes forward with concerns about Hastings. She claimed that Hastings is “a liability to the state of Illinois and the lawmaking process.”

Jones resigned as Senate Deputy Majority Leader Tuesday, but he has not commented on the possibility of leaving his official duties as a senator. He is set to be arraigned in the bribery case Friday morning.

“The charges brought against my son, Emil Jones III, do not reflect the man he is. Everyone knows he is an honest, hardworking legislator,” said Emil Jones Jr. “I intend to fight with him and stand alongside him throughout this process.”

Senate President Don Harmon demanded Hastings and Jones resign from their leadership posts. Spokesman John Patterson said the gravity of the accusations required immediate action and consequences.

“Now it is up to these individuals and their constituents to determine their futures,” Patterson said.

The Senate President’s office has also contacted the Legislative Inspector General’s office to ensure they know of the allegations against Hastings. Although, Pritzker said that resigning only their leadership roles falls short of what the public should expect.

Hastings noted Thursday that he has no plans to resign and will continue his campaign for re-election. The suburban lawmaker said the allegations made against him are baseless and without merit.

“I look forward to continuing to serve the best interests of the hard-working men and women of the south suburbs,” Hastings said. “The voters can choose between a public servant who has selflessly served his country and community for 25 years or a MAGA extremist who wants to take away a women’s fundamental right to choose.”

However, the Republican running against Hastings said the abuse allegations have become too serious to ignore. Police officer Patrick Sheehan also demanded that Hastings resign from the Senate.

“Taxpayers should not have to continue paying for Senator Hastings’ unacceptable behavior, and they definitely should not have to continue paying his Senate salary while he deals with these serious allegations,” Sheehan said. “The people of the 19th Senate District deserve better.”

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