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Illinois’ new legislative inspector general says he’s a watchdog, not a prosecutor

Capitol News Illinois file
Illinois' legislative watchdog says his office is doing the job it's supposed to but the public doesn't understand what that job is.

Retired judge Mike McCuskey became Illinois' legislative watchdog six months ago. The office gets little attention. Critics say the office is largely powerless.

McCuskey, the former Illinois State University Board of Trustees chair, said many don't have a clear understanding of what the office's role is.

He said his job of legislative inspector general is to look into complaints and report when wrongdoing is found. He said his job is to stay out of the limelight and not act like a prosecutor.

WGLT file photo
Mike McCuskey

“Prosecution agencies don’t want help,” McCuskey said during an interview on WGLT’s Sound Ideas. “This is not a prosecuting office, never has been, never will (be), here or in any of the 50 states in the United States."

McCuskey said while the office was never intended to “eliminate corruption in Illinois” through prosecutorial powers, he believes he has the attention of lawmakers and their staffs because complaints are made public if the officer determines they are legitimate.

“They know where it starts,” he said. “(Lawmakers) worry about getting elected, not going to jail.”

McCuskey said his office has received complaints against 40 state lawmakers and their staffers during his first six months on the job. He said many complaints are so vague there's nothing to investigate, or they appear to stem from election-year politics. He said none showed wrongdoing.

McCuskey's predecessor, Carol Pope, wanted authority to start investigations without permission. The previous inspector general, Julie Porter, claimed state lawmakers blocked her attempts to make her findings of wrongdoing public.

The inspector general has a new webpage on the Illinois General Assembly website. McCuskey said that better explains what the role of the legislative inspector general entails.

The last time the inspector general found wrongdoing against a state legislator or staffer was 2019.

Eric Stock is the News Director at WGLT. You can contact Eric at