Evanston lawyer appointed as Illinois legislative inspector general

Jake Holland, Assistant City Editor

Evanston lawyer Julie Porter was appointed as Illinois’ temporary legislative inspector general on Nov. 4, filling a position that had been vacant for nearly three years.

As legislative inspector general, Porter is tasked with addressing complaints of law violations, abuse of authority or other forms of misconduct by members of the General Assembly and state employees. At least 27 complaints have amassed while the position was left vacant, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

Porter said though the opportunity came “out of the blue,” she is “honored and excited” to take on the role. The Legislative Ethics Commission voted unanimously to appoint Porter after praising her experience.

“It’s a very important post and I hope to bring to it the need for swift work and integrity and accountability that one would expect of an inspector general,” Porter said.

Porter said though she will not know of case specifics until her contract is finalized, she will investigate the complaints — if relevant to the office — and seek “whatever authority” she needs from the commission to do so.

Prior to assuming the role, Porter worked as an assistant United States Attorney in Chicago for 12 years, handling cases related to corporate fraud and public corruption. After leaving her post as chief of the Chicago office’s criminal division, Porter helped found Salvatore, Prescott and Porter — a firm specializing in employment law, civil rights and white collar criminal defense.

Sarah Prescott (Weinberg ’99), another founding partner at the law firm, said she was “really not surprised” about Porter’s nomination. She said Porter has an “incredibly tough” reputation in both prosecution and private practice circles.

“(Porter) is incredibly well regarded in the Chicago legal community,” Prescott said. “It is a big pond and I think of her as a very big fish in that pond.”

People need a place to make complaints about public government, Prescott said, and Porter is “passionate” about addressing those concerns. She added that Porter isn’t a “yes-woman” and isn’t afraid to present a differing opinion about legal matters.

Prescott said transparency is an important tenet of the position, and that she’s confident Porter will make it a priority. She added that Porter has “the integrity and backbone to say what needs to be said.”

Porter said her appointment is only temporary and the commission will still seek a regular legislative inspector general. Her term runs until next June.

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