Culture of Corruption? Illinois Democrat charged with red light camera bribery, lying to FBI
Indictment alleges state Sen. Emil Jones III
accepted benefits in exchange for opposing legislation.
Another Illinois state lawmaker faces bribery charges related to the red-light camera industry.
The U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois released a three-charge indictment of state Sen. Emil Jones III, D-Chicago, Tuesday.
The first charge states Jones accepted benefits in exchange for “opposing legislation that required the study of automated traffic enforcement systems located outside of Chicago, and would limit any legislation regarding [Illinois Department of Transportation’s] study of and recommendations concerning” red light cameras.
Jones “corruptly solicited, agreed to accept, and accepted things of value from Individual A, namely a $5,000 payment and money for Individual B, intending to be influenced and rewarded in connection with a business, transaction, and series of transactions of the State of Illinois involving a thing of value of $5,000 or more, namely, legislation in the Illinois General Assembly concerning the operation of red-light cameras,” the allegations state.
The second count alleges Jones “used a facility in interstate commerce, namely, an email account and associated communication network operated by service provider Google, with intent to promote, manage, establish, carry on, and facilitate the promotion, management, establishment, and carrying on of an unlawful activity.”
Count three alleges Jones “did knowingly and willfully make a materially false, fictitious, and fraudulent statement and representation in a matter within the jurisdiction of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.”
"When asked if he agreed to protect Company A and Individual A from legislation in the Illinois General Assembly concerning the operation of red-light cameras in exchange for Individual A hiring Individual B, Jones said that he did not," the charge alleges. "When asked if he discussed with Individual A how Individual A could contribute money to him without having to report that sum of money, Jones said that he had not. When asked if he knew how much money Individual A agreed to pay Individual B, Jones said that he did not."
Senate President Don Harmon, D-Oak Park, issued a statement.
“I have asked for and expect to receive Senator Jones’ resignation from his leadership post and committee chairmanship,” Harmon said. "These are grave allegations. Members of the Senate and all public officials need to hold themselves to a high ethical standard for the public to have trust and faith in our work."
Illinois House Minority Leader Jim Durkin’s office put out a list of ten sitting or former elected Democrat state officials charged in federal court with public corruption from the past decade including former longtime Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, who faces 22 federal counts of racketeering, bribery, fraud and extortion in a scheme with utility ComEd to benefit personally for public actions.
“The Democrat Party of Illinois has become an organized crime family whose only purpose is to shakedown Illinois taxpayers,” Durkin, R-Western Springs, said in a statement. “Today’s indictment once again shows Illinois residents why Democrats refuse to pass real ethics reform; they are too corrupt.”
A sweeping probe into illicit elected official activity surrounding the red-light camera industry was clear following the FBI raid of the late former state Sen. Martin Sandoval’s offices at the capitol in Springfield and his legislative district in 2019. Before passing away in December 2020, Sandoval pleaded guilty and apologized for his actions.
Jones, the son of former Senate President Emil Jones Jr., has been in office since 2009, taking his father’s seat who retired that year.