Did you know that felons can run for elected office in Illinois after they have served their time in prison? Al Sanchez and Ike Carothers are just two recent examples of this. Al Sanchez's campaign is particularly ironic because he is replacing a convicted felon and former member of the Cook County board, William Beavers. They can run for the various offices because it is not the office that they had while committing their crimes. The Judge who enabled them to run in Andre Jaffe, who recently was reappointed by Governor Quinn as Chairmen of the Gaming Commission in the state of Illinois.
The history of how this issue came to light begins with the realization that felons under the Illinois State Constitution are allowed to hold state public office after their prison sentence has completed. An effort was made to limit the scope of this part of Illinois Constitution, when the state passed a law stating felons could not run for municipal office. The law tries... to keep felons off the ballot. It prohibits anyone convicted of any felony in the United States from running for local office. This law only applied to municipal offices. Additionally, those offices are created by the various cites and counties and thus not bound to the rules of state constitutions.
The fact that felons in the state of Illinois are even allowed to run for other offices in Illinois is sick. One of the very dramatic example of this is Mel Reynolds. He served as a congressmen in the South-side of Chicago. He served until he was found guilty of numerous crimes and one of those dirty deeds was child rape. He ran for Congress again as recently as this year.
Now lets turn to the rather infamous ruling in 1999. The facts of the case are as follows. The lawsuit seeking Ald. Victor Watts' ouster was filed in July by Roosevelt Cory and cited the Illinois municipal code, which states "a person is not eligible for an elective municipal office if that person . . . has been convicted in any court . . . in the United States of any infamous crime, bribery, perjury, or other felony."
Judge Jaffe ruled against the law stating,
"Jaffe said he could find no compelling state interest from precluding Watts from holding elected municipal office. He said the statute does not take into consideration whether a candidate has completed his sentence or is a repeat offender.In addition, Jaffe said the statute "fails to account for any rehabilitation which may or may not have occurred and does not differentiate between a youthful offender such as Victor Watts who has turned his life around and a hardened criminal . . ."
No compelling interest, really Judge Jaffe. Your ruling literally allow crooks to replace crooks in municipal office. Shame on you. It is fitting that Governor Quinn would pick you to run the Gaming commission because your ruling is equal to gambling that the ex felons can be trusted. Governor Quinn should know better than reappoint someone who aided ex-felons in their efforts to run for election.