NORMAL -- Public service is a noble profession, and Democrats have a lot to be proud of in that area despite the corruption allegations surrounding the recently impeached governor, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan said Monday.
"All of us have an obligation to attempt to improve our society," Lisa Madigan told the crowd at the Old Main Room at Illinois State University's Bone Student Center. Being attorney general "gives me daily opportunities."
While she never mentioned ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich by name, Madigan, who is running for re-election next year, defended the party now dominating state politics.
"Democrats have a lot to be proud of," she said. "At the end of the day, Democrats have always been there for ordinary people."
Her office handles a wide range of issues, including protecting people from sex offenders and online predators, enforcing consumer and environmental protections and making government more open and accessible.
The daughter of House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, said public service was the norm in her family. What really inspired her, however, was working for then-U.S. Sen. Paul Simon, D-Ill., in the late 1980s.
"I saw a different side of public service," she said.
Simon was ahead of his time on many issues, including civil rights, international human rights and violence on television and how it affected children, she said. "He had Captain Kangaroo testify in front of a Senate committee (on TV violence)," she said.
When Simon died in 2003, Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., said in his eulogy: "In a different era, he would have been one of our founding fathers," she said.
She spoke briefly on her office's accomplishments since she become attorney general, including legislation allowing lifetime supervision of sex offenders.
"We cleaned up the sex offender registry," she said. "You need to know who these people are."
Her office also has taken aim at predatory banks and other lenders by drafting laws to tighten controls on abusive lending practices, she said.
"Millions face foreclosure," she said. "Until we stabilize the housing market, our economy is not going to get going again."