(The Center Squar) – The Illinois Freedom Caucus is calling for an ethics investigation into what one member called “shenanigans.”
Late Friday, March 24, the Illinois House was in the process of voting on one of the dozens of bills passed that day. For the week, the House passed more than 400 bills. Some Republicans noticed Democrats not at their seats despite their votes being counted.
State Rep. Dan Caulkins, R-Decatur, objected during the vote of one controversial bill, House Bill 3957, dealing with generic drug pricing regulations.
“You aren’t going to use parliamentary tricks,” Caulkins said. “This is a bill that is going to have a huge implication on this state.”
Four Democrat “yes” votes were removed from a bill after a verification Republicans demanded was conducted.
One absent lawmaker was state Rep. Anthony DeLuca, D-Chicago Heights. He actually spoke during short debate on the bill where only two speakers were allowed to speak.
“I was present, I spoke on the bill,” DeLuca told The Center Square Tuesday. “I voted my own switch, but by the time the verification took place, I was no longer on the floor.”
About 20 minutes went by from when the vote was made and when it was verified. Messages seeking comment from others weren’t immediately returned.
Monday, the Illinois Freedom Caucus, made of some downstate Republicans, demanded an ethics investigation into the matter.
“That verification showed at least four votes were cast on the motion which could not be verified,” the statement said. “Those votes were removed, the bill failed to pass, and shortly after the verification, the House adjourned. However, there is no denying that votes were improperly cast for members who were not present to vote, and there were attempts to prevent verification from proceeding in an effort to cover up false votes.”
Tuesday, state Rep. Jed Davis, R-Newark, demanded the issue be reviewed.
“Maybe they went back to their hotels, I’m not sure, but they were still being accounted for in the vote roll call. Even though they weren’t on the floor, their switch, their box was still being voted, and that’s what we questioned,” Davis told WMAY .”We are there to hold up an ethical oath on behalf of the people who elected us, and we just want to ensure that all 118 members are complying with that.”
A spokesperson for Illinois House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch, D-Hillside, said The Freedom Caucus “has repeatedly proven that they have no sincere interest in governing.”
“Their one goal is to obstruct the will of the majority of voters in Illinois because their policies continuously fail at the ballot box. Democrats remain focused on getting the work done and lifting up communities across this state,” Welch spokesperson Jaclyn Driscoll told The Center Square in an email.