Illinois Legislative Inspector General Carol Pope found against state Rep. Allen Skillicorn, R-East Dundee, in an ethics claim that Skillicorn was recorded voting on 23 bills when he wasn’t present during a June 1 legislative session.
The ethics complaint – which was filed by McHenry County Board member Carolyn Schofield, Skillicorn’s primary opponent – claimed that Skillicorn was not in Springfield during a 12:15 p.m. roll call at the last spring session of 2019.
A number of online photos and videos showed the lawmaker at the Harvard Milk Days parade, which began at 1 p.m. that day, according to the festival’s schedule. Harvard is about 220 miles from the Illinois Capitol.
Between the start of the House session and a 3:01 p.m. recess, Skillicorn was recorded to have voted “yes” or “no” on 23 of 26 pieces of legislation.
Pope said in a letter to Schofield that she interviewed 11 people – including clerk’s office personnel, staff members and several members of the Illinois General Assembly – and found no evidence that Skillicorn authorized anyone to operate his switch in his absence.
“Apparently, it is common practice for members to ask a seatmate or staffer to vote their switch if they need to step out and use the bathroom, or meet with leadership or talk to a constituent,” Pope wrote. “It is not accepted practice for a member to ask someone to vote their switch when they are out of town, nor is it appropriate for a staffer or seatmate to take it upon themselves to vote another member’s switch when they are out of town and absent from the session.”
Pope said that she would be suggesting to House leadership that a written protocol be put together and given to House members and staff so there is no question about the procedures to be followed when a representative will be absent.
A letter of transmittal from Skillicorn dated Feb. 13, which was added to the June 1 Illinois House journal, said that the representative was not in attendance during the 12:15 p.m. roll call. Instead, Skillicorn said he arrived in Springfield during the 3-hour recess that day and the “yes” and “no” votes he cast before then were inadvertent.
Based on these findings, Schofield said she was advised that the matter would not proceed to a formal investigation. She said that she was a little disappointed that there were no consequences as a result of the ethics violation.
Skillicorn said he agrees with everything in Pope’s findings and strongly supports the recommendation of a written protocol to ensure a similar issue does not happen again.
“Indeed, there was no malice,” Skillicorn said. “It was mistake and we as a legislative body should clearly define what the protocol should be so that the rules are clear and mistakes like this will not be made.”
Both Skillicorn and Schofield ran for the 66th House seat in 2016, with Skillicorn receiving 4,816 votes against Schofield’s 4,211 votes.