SPRINGFIELD – Some Republican senators are calling JB Pritzker “America’s most dangerous governor” after Senate Democrats refused to vote on 10 people appointed by the Illinois Prisoner Review Board on Monday.
These Republicans say this move will allow these appointees to continue serving without going through the constitutionally required confirmation process.
The appointments were on the agenda of the Senate Executive Appointments Committee on Monday, the last day of the legislative session.
But President Laura Murphy, D-Des Plaines, allowed the hearing to end without calling those appointees to testify.
Last week, four Republican senators, upset by some decisions of the prison review committee, questioned the appointments of four council members, stressing that they had not been confirmed by the Senate as required by the law.
Sen. Jason Plummer, R-Vandalia, the senior Republican on the committee, said he was “extremely disappointed” with Murphy and accusing him of making the “offer” to Pritzker.
Murphy called his actions “routine” and the Republicans’ rhetoric “dangerous.”
“My colleagues across the aisle have chosen to politicize this process, but they are well aware that the process is routine,” Murphy said in an emailed statement Monday. “The Prisoner Review Board is responsible for making parole decisions independently, and involving them in this blatant display of partisanship is inappropriate and dangerous.
A spokeswoman for Pritzker accused Republican senators of “political tribulation.”
The 15-member Prisoner Review Board decides who gets parole and sets the conditions for parole for state prisoners. He also makes leniency recommendations to the governor.
These 10 appointees were placed on the board in 2019, but have not been submitted to the Senate for approval since then.
Appointees must be approved by the Senate within 60 days of a legislative session. But Pritzker withdrew the nominations in March and renamed them a few days later; who restarted the 60-day countdown.
Last week, Pritzker spokeswoman Jordan Abudayyeh said it was “common practice” for appointees to be removed “so that the Senate has more time to consider the appointments”.
“For the Prisoner Review Board to fulfill its difficult and complex mission, members must be able to make independent parole decisions,” she said. “Subjecting members to political tribulation sets a new and dangerous precedent for this constitutional office.”
Plummer and Senator Terri Bryant, R-Murphysboro, were not convinced,
“These appointees are held accountable to the legislature and are releasing people to the streets of this state… some of whom are cop killers, sexual assault rapists, [and] child molesters, ”Plummer said Monday. “And yet the people who do this will not appear before the State Senate. The Democratic majority will not call them out and do their constitutional duty because apparently the governor’s checkbook is more important than the people of their districts.
Bryant brought up the case of Ray Larsen, released by the prison review board last month after serving a sentence for the 1972 murder of Chicago teenager Frank Casolari.
Bryant said she had had “a week of sleepless nights” after learning that Larsen had broken his parole and recently presented to a Chicago-area hospital.
“Imagine the victims of these crimes and the sleeplessness they had… wondering where this guy was. It could have been in any of our districts where this individual was cowardly, ”said Bryant.
Pritzker did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday.