BLOOMINGTON — State Rep. Scott Drury hopes to bring a strongly independent style to the Illinois attorney general's office.
"I have a history of standing up for the public and taking positions that don't politically benefit me, and I do them because I think it's the right thing to do," he told The Pantagraph. "There are eight candidates in this race, but there's only one who can make that promise on a history of action."
Drury, a Highwood Democrat who prides himself on being the only Democrat to vote against Michael Madigan for speaker, wants to use a similarly aggressive approach after taking on a crowded Democratic primary March 20.
"The theme of the campaign is, 'We're gonna clean up Illinois.' For too long, the state has outsourced its public corruption (investigations) to U.S. attorney's offices, newspaper reporters and nonprofits," he said. "I'm gonna bring that all back in house."
Drury hopes to both use the power of the attorney general's office and stump publicly for legislation to cure the state's ills, including public corruption, gun violence, opioid abuse, sexual harassment and a lack of transparency. That draws on his experiences as a six-year legislator and former federal prosecutor.
On gun violence, he hopes the state will not just pass tougher restrictions on firearms — as the House did this week — but build up communities.
"If you don't educate people, if you don't have job opportunities for people and people can't get jobs because of their records, that is a recipe for joining a gang and violence," said Drury. "The attorney general has a responsibility to explain to the public why this investment needs to be made, because otherwise you're putting a Band-Aid on cancer, not resolving the problem."
He hopes also introduce a special counsel to investigate sexual harassment allegations in the wake of recent scandals involving Madigan. Drury is running to succeed Lisa Madigan, the speaker's daughter.
"I don't think it should lie with the inspector general, who ... only acts when the Legislative Ethics Commission says," he said. "No one trusts a process where the legislative branch is investigating itself. ... There needs to be someone completely independent of the General Assembly and the executive branch who investigates this stuff."
Drury said he also hopes to build on progress Lisa Madigan made in her four terms as attorney general, including in public access. He wants to make public bodies put $7,500 in an escrow account for each Freedom of Information Act request they deny.
"We have to incentivize local governments to turn over information," Drury said. "One of the best ways to expose public corruption is through the public and newspapers using (FOIA) to look for information that could be the next (internal) investigation."