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Let the taxpayers off the hook

THE ISSUE: Bill requires disclosure of sexual harassment
OUR VIEW: Claims, when founded, deserve to be made public

State Rep. David McSweeney, R-Barrington Hills, recently threw a bill in the Illinois legislative hopper that would bar state and local governments from making payouts to settle sexual harassment cases.

The general idea is that if an individual commits such an act, the individual should be responsible for any damages. The taxpayers should not be paying for their misdeeds.

We agree wholeheartedly. You commit the crime. You pay the dime.

But why stop there?

Sexual harassment should be stopped. There are a whole bunch of other things that should be stopped, too.

For instance, taxpayer bailouts of individuals ought to stop or be a whole lot more rare. We have had cases where the amount of the payout was purposefully kept hidden from the public. That shouldn't be allowed. If the public is paying the tab, we have the right to know what the tab is.

We would add a further point. It makes some sense for individuals to receive compensation if their contract is canceled. That would hold true in private industry. However, if the person is then convicted of a crime while in office, the amount of the payout should be paid back to the public government.

But we would make this dependent on a conviction, not on an accusation. There is a big, big difference.

Dipping into the government coffers punishes the innocent, along with the guilty. Then again, if someone knows the government is paying, well, the government's pockets are deep.

Again, if there is wrongdoing, the taxpayer should not be on the hook.

This Small Newspaper Group editorial originally ran in the Kankakee Daily Journal.

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