Illinois has a reputation for rampant corruption among its government leaders. A state senator facing federal bribery charges is the latest to join the list.
His crime involves pledging favorable legislation for a “red-light camera” service company in exchange for bribes. Local media outlets have dubbed the controversy the “red-light camera scheme.”
According to CBS News, Illinois state House Republican Leader Jim Durkin (R-Westchester) lamented: “This is the 11th Democrat – a high-ranking Democrat in state government – who’s been indicted by the federal government in the last 10 years.”
According to a report by Fox News, federal authorities charged Sen. Emil Jones III (D-Chicago) with soliciting a bribe from “Company A,” a Chicago-based company that coordinates automated traffic enforcement systems, commonly known as “red-light cameras.”
The Fox report noted that “these cameras enabled municipalities to enforce traffic violations and issue traffic-violation tickets.”
The Tuesday filing of the U.S. Attorney’s office notes that in February 2019 Jones introduced Senate Bill 1297 that required the Illinois Department of Transportation “to conduct a statewide study of red-light cameras and other automated traffic enforcement systems, and to propose any changes IDOT deemed necessary.”
According to the filing, “five months later, Jones offered to protect one specific red-light camera from his own legislation” in exchange for a $5,000 bribe.
Prosecutors allege Jones promised he would prohibit the IDOT study from impacting red-light camera systems outside the Chicago area.
Chicago Tribune Reporter Jason Meisner tweeted that Jones intends to plead guilty.
Reportedly, the person Jones requested the bribe from was cooperating with law enforcement officials.
On Tuesday, SafeSpeed, the company that reportedly coordinates red-light camera systems throughout the state, issued this statement:
“SafeSpeed’s goal has always been to provide a service that helps save lives. As new developments in federal investigations come to light, SafeSpeed remains both shocked and saddened that one of its former colleagues was engaged in criminal conduct and recruited outside individuals to help further his self-serving activities…
Their actions were clearly in their own self-interest and done without SafeSpeed’s knowledge and undercut the important work SafeSpeed does…
“The criminal activity of a few individuals does not and should not reflect the values and integrity of SafeSpeed, its employees, and its clients. SafeSpeed built its business on integrity and ethics, and it holds its employees and representatives to the highest standards of conduct and ethics. SafeSpeed has long since terminated all contact with its former colleague and his associates…
“SafeSpeed remains committed to continuing to assist Illinois municipalities in improving traffic safety. SafeSpeed fully supports the federal government’s investigation into public corruption and will continue to aid their efforts in any way it can.”
Illinois Senate President Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) has asked for Jones’s resignation, saying:
“I have asked for and expect to receive Senator Jones’ resignation from his leadership post and committee chairmanship. These are grave allegations. 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.”
Jones is scheduled to be arraigned on Friday at 11 a.m.
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