Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Monday called on authorities to “quickly and thoroughly” complete their investigation into potential influence peddling involving a police body-camera manufacturer and a state senator who spearheaded a massive criminal justice reform bill approved last year.
The Tribune reported on Monday that state Sen. Elgie Sims, a Chicago Democrat, was approached in the spring by federal authorities looking into whether Axon Enterprise Inc. either directly or through other lobbying entities improperly tried to influence Sims. The criminal justice legislation he championed and was enacted in 2021 included a slew of reforms, including requiring every police officer in the state to wear a body camera by 2025.
“On this matter, I encourage authorities to act quickly and thoroughly and to hold anyone accountable who should be held accountable,” Pritzker said Monday at an unrelated news conference on Chicago’s South Side.
Sims has declined to comment on the probe but his attorney told the Tribune the senator has done nothing wrong. Axon said in a statement to the Tribune that the company “is committed to conducting business with integrity and in accordance with both the law and the highest ethical standards.” No charges have been filed in the case.
Sims’ connections to Axon go back to at least 2020, when he listed the firm as one of his clients in a 2020 lobbyist disclosure form with the Chicago Board of Ethics, records show. On the form, when asked if he had received or anticipated receiving compensation for lobbying for Axon, Sims replied “yes,” though he later clarified in a letter to the board that he was only providing legal services.
Sims was contacted by the FBI in early May as its investigation intensified, two sources told the Tribune.
The criminal justice reform law Sims helped push through the General Assembly has become a major focus in the statewide campaign for governor.
Pritzker, Sims and other proponents say the law is intended to address inequities in the justice system. Republican lawmakers, police officers and pro-law enforcement groups say the law weakens police and emboldens criminals with provisions such as ending cash bail for certain offenses in 2023.
Among the critics is state Sen. Darren Bailey, the Republican governor nominee from downstate Xenia, who held his own news conference Monday to accept the endorsement of the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police, and the support from the Chicago FOP.
While billed by his campaign as a news conference, Bailey declined to take questions from reporters Monday morning, just as he did at a campaign event in the Chicago area on Sunday. He did not address the federal investigation involving Sims.
Bailey instead called Pritzker, Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx the “three musketeers of crime” in Chicago.
“Do you feel safer than you did four years ago? Has your quality of life gotten better over the last four years?” Bailey asked in his remarks at Chicago’s FOP headquarters. “For most Illinoisans, you know as well as I do, the answer is a pretty quick ‘no.’ ”
Bailey again said that, if elected, he will move to repeal the criminal justice law, a goal that is almost certainly unrealistic given that Democrats are expected to maintain overwhelming control of both legislative chambers.
At his afternoon event, Pritzker branded Bailey a “hypocrite” for claiming to be an ally of law enforcement, noting that he has voted against the governor’s budgets that have added millions in funding Illinois State Police forensic science efforts and money for law enforcement agencies to aid in their recruiting and retention of police.
“When he says he is pro-public safety and then votes against expanding our crime labs, votes against adding police, votes against us being able to solve crimes quickly, then he is not somebody who actually has public safety in mind,” Pritzker said.
Source : https://www.chicagotribune.com/politics/ct-elgie-sims-federal-investigation-pritzker-20220808-qiqlzmimavfzxicswyjnmfbi3m-story.html#ed=rss_www.chicagotribune.com/arcio/rss/category/news/