• Ben Szalinski
    SEP 23, 2022


    Pritzker calls on Jones, Hastings to give up Senate seats, but Hastings says he’s staying put

    Sen. Michael Hastings (D-Frankfurt), left, and Sen. Emil Jones III (D-Chicago), right, are both facing calls to resign.

    Pressure is mounting for two Illinois Senators accused of misconduct to give up their positions as lawmakers after Gov. JB Pritzker issued a statement Thursday morning calling on Sens. Emil Jones III (D-Chicago) and Michael Hastings (D-Frankfurt) to resign.

    Allegations of domestic abuse have been following Hastings since August and worsened last week when an environmental lobbyist accused Hastings of having issues with anger and making threats toward her during negotiations on bills. Jones, who is the son of long-time Senate President Emil Jones Jr., was charged with bribery and lying to the FBI earlier this week.   

    “In the best interests of their constituents, these men must resign from their offices,” Pritzker said in a statement.  

    “Integrity is essential to public service, and corruption for personal gain and abuse in private or public is unacceptable. Illinoisans deserve to have elected leaders who are focused on representing them - not on holding office when facing serious and credible charges,” he said.   

    Pritzker’s call for their resignation comes a day after Jones gave up his committee chairmanship and leadership roles at the request of Senate President Don Harmon (D-Oak Park). Harmon also asked for Hastings’ resignation from his leadership role earlier this summer but is not planning to ask either senator to resign from the Senate.   

    “The gravity of the accusations required immediate action and consequences, which is why the Senate President demanded and received resignations from their leadership posts. Now it is up to these individuals and their constituents to determine their futures,” Harmon spokesperson John Patterson said in a statement.  

    Messages for Jones’ spokesperson were not returned, but Hastings respond to Pritzker’s request in a statement saying voters will choose between “a public servant who has selflessly served his country and community” or a “MAGA extremist” in his opponent, Republican Patrick Sheehan of Lockport. 

    “The allegation made therein are baseless and without merit,” Hastings said. “I look forward to continuing to serve the best interests of the hard-working men and women of the south suburbs.” 

    Sheehan, who has largely remained quiet on Hastings’ problems, issued his own statement echoing Pritzker’s calls for him to resign.  

    “As a police officer for over 16 years, I have consistently defended women from their domestic abusers and harassers,” Sheehan said. “I can tell you, the kind of people who conduct this type of behavior have no place in our government.”  

    Hastings has served in the Senate for 10 years, holds a law degree from the University of Illinois and is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point and has served tours in Iraq. Earlier this year, he led the passage of legislation to crackdown on carjackings and led the Democrats’ tax relief plan through the Senate. In 2021, Hastings was a key figure in the Senate’s passage of the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act.   

    But in August, Hastings revealed through social media posts and a lawsuit that he was going through a divorce with his wife. Police records obtained by WBEZ found his wife filed police reports alleging domestic battery by Hastings. Furthermore, Illinois Environmental Council Executive Director Jen Walling alleged in an interview with WBEZ that Hastings displayed bouts of anger at times in meetings and threatened to kill bills she was pushing.   

    Walling released her own statement on Twitter Thursday saying she is “grateful” Pritzker asked him to resign.   

    “This individual is a liability to the state of Illinois and the lawmaking process,” Walling wrote.   

    Hastings has not been charged with any crime, but Jones is accused by federal prosecutors of taking a $5,000 bribe from red-light camera company SafeSpeed in exchange for his opposition to legislation that the company believed was unfavorable.  

    Related: Sen. Emil Jones III latest Illinois lawmaker charged in a red-light camera scheme  

    Asked Wednesday for his response to Jones’ indictment, Pritzker responded by saying corruption is an issue in both parties.   

    “We’ve seen Democrats and Republicans all across the state get in trouble for not living up to the standards of public service that demand integrity,” Pritzker said at a news conference in Chicago. “So it’s disappointing, terribly disappointing.”   

    Related: Sen. Emil Jones III indictment shows lawmakers can do more on ethics, Pritzker says  

    Since Pritzker took office in 2019, Jones is the sixth General Assembly Democrat to be charged in a federal corruption case. The others include former Sen. Tom Cullerton (D-Oak Park), former Sen. Martin Sandoval (D-Chicago), former Rep. Luis Arroyo (D-Chicago), former Sen. Terry Link (D-Waukegan), and former House Speaker Mike Madigan (D-Chicago). Cullerton, Arroyo and Sandoval have each pleaded or been found guilty.   

    The latest corruption case for Democrats followed by the accusations against Hastings are providing more fuel for Republicans heading into the home stretch of the election season.  

    “What is this 'high ethical standard' in today's Democrat-controlled Senate?" said Illinois Republican Party Chairman Don Tracy in a news release. "Is everything short of a federal indictment and conviction ok? Senate President Harmon should call on Sen. Hastings and Sen. Jones III to resign.” 

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