‘Essentially a Paper Tiger’: BGA Digs Into Resignation of Chicago’s Legislative Inspector General

The former legislative inspector general said she had "no real power to effect change or shine a light on ethics violations, the position is essentially a paper tiger."

Legislative Inspector General Carol Pope resigned last week over her disappointment with the recent ethics reform bill.

In her resignation letter she wrote that she had "no real power to effect change or shine a light on ethics violations, the position is essentially a paper tiger."

The legislative inspector general investigates charges of ethical or illegal conduct by members of the General Assembly.

David Greising with the Better Government Association wrote a column about Pope's resignation, saying, "I contrasted the LIG with the office of the Chicago Inspector General. Joe Ferguson has an $11 million budget and hundreds of employees, compared to around $950,000 and a skeleton staff for the LIG. Ferguson can investigate without limitation or prior approval; file subpoenas without oversight, and publish findings without seeking approval or even giving notice."

The BGA found that recent Chicago IG investigations have looked into failures of the Chicago Police Department during the George Floyd disturbances and racial bias in the gang crimes database. They have debunked Rahm Emanuel's claims about saving $11M from the city's switch to a grid-based garbage collection system. They've exposed corruption in contracting for red-light cameras.

By contrast, the LIG has published findings in only nine cases since the office was formed in 2003. It went vacant for more than three years, ending in 2017, and no one noticed.

ABC7 asked Greising if any other elected officials have reacted to Pope's decision to step down, and he said no one has said anything about the resignation.

Pope said she will remain in her position until her replacement is found, or she will step down immediately.