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Local

Demmer introduces bills to prevent another swindle

Legislation calls for more oversight, harsher penalties

DIXON – State Rep. Tom Demmer filed anti-corruption legislation Wednesday that he said will add more accountability to government offices and increase penalties for perpetrators.

The Dixon Republican filed the legislation a day before the city’s former comptroller, Rita Crundwell, is to be sentenced in federal court for stealing nearly $54 million from the city.

Crundwell forged state invoices and falsely claimed the state was late in payments to justify why the city was in bad shape financially.

House Bills 1561, 1562, and 1563 will require municipal and county officials to check state payments made to municipalities and counties on a semi-annual basis, require two signatures to open new bank accounts, strengthen penalties for forging state documents and provide escalating penalties for official misconduct that illegally obtains property or monetary gains for personal advantage.

Demmer said retired State Rep. Jerry Mitchell, R-Rock Falls, and State Rep. Rich Morthland, R-Cordova, started working on these bills after Crundwell’s April 17 arrest.

“As a lifelong Dixon resident, I can personally attest to the distrust and anger this embezzlement has caused,” the freshman state representative for the 90th District said. “This is a perfect example of why we must learn from the past and take steps to ensure that this kind of criminal activity doesn’t happen again.”

By enforcing this kind of legislation, Demmer said, municipalities and counties will have improved oversight within their offices and greater accountability for improper activity.

“We wanted to be sure not to attack this from just one angle,” Demmer said. “It’s a broad package that addresses several concerns.”

So far, he has received a positive response from his colleagues in pushing the bills into law.

“I’ve heard from both sides of the aisle,” Demmer said of his first legislation filing since being sworn in last month. “Over the next several weeks, I’m going to work to build support behind this and build bipartisan support, and get it enacted to law.”

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