SPRINGFIELD — A state senator who says he was slugged by one of his colleagues after a contentious debate late Tuesday said he hopes charges are filed in connection with the incident.
State Sen. Kyle McCarter, R-Lebanon, is awaiting the results of a report he made to the Illinois Secretary of State police after a disagreement between him and state Sen. Mike Jacobs, D-East Moline, escalated beyond verbal sparring, he said.
McCarter said Jacobs walked to McCarter’s desk on the GOP side of the Senate chamber Tuesday night, used profanity, pointed at him and then punched him in the chest.
“I plan on pursuing legal action,” McCarter said.
Jacobs could not be reached for comment Wednesday. A police report is expected to be made public Thursday.
The fracas started during a debate over legislation being sponsored by Jacobs that would grant Commonwealth Edison and Ameren Illinois automatic rate increases in exchange for the utilities upgrading their equipment.
McCarter pointed out that Jacobs’ father, former state Sen. Denny Jacobs, is a registered lobbyist for ComEd. Although the senator noted his father’s lobbying activities on his most recent state disclosure forms, McCarter said he thinks Jacobs shouldn’t have been the lead sponsor of the measure.
“He did nothing to avoid the appearance of impropriety,” McCarter said. “Just because you’ve done it this way for years doesn’t mean it’s right for today.”
After the rate increase measure was narrowly approved, Jacobs marched across the Senate chamber to confront McCarter.
State Sen. Dave Syverson, R-Rockford, said he saw the exchange.
“He (Jacobs) pushed him or poked him in some way,” Syverson said.
State Sen. John Jones, R-Mount Vernon, said the tense hours of the final day of the legislative session may have contributed to the blowup. He said he didn’t witness the fight but he’s seen similar confrontations in prior years.
“You wish it wouldn’t, but it happens,” Jones said.
It’s not the first time Jacobs has mixed it up with a political foe. In 2007, Jacobs threatened to spank and kick former Gov. Rod Blagojevich after the two had a disagreement in the governor’s office.
Jacobs said late Tuesday he has properly disclosed any potential conflict of interest, leaving it up to voters in his Quad-City district to decide whether it is a problem.
“The reason I support this bill is because it’s the right bill,” Jacobs told reporters as the spring legislative session was coming to a close Tuesday. “You can look under my underwear. I don’t care where you look.”
McCarter said he doesn’t think an apology will settle the matter.
“We can’t continue to do business like this,” McCarter said. “His behavior was inexcusable.”
EARLIER STORY: EM's Jacobs accused of punching lawmaker
Kurt Erickson at 12:38 a.m.
SPRINGFIELD — A long day on the Senate floor ended in allegations of fisticuffs and foul language Tuesday.
State Sen. Kyle McCarter, R-Lebanon, accused state Sen. Mike Jacobs of "using profanity and pointing his finger before he punched me with his fist in my chest" following a heated debate.
McCarter said he gave a statement about the incident to the Secretary of State police.
Jacobs, D-East Moline, brushed off the incident as an emotional outburst common at the end of a legislative session when big issues are being debated and tempers are flaring.
At issue was electric utility rate hike legislation being pushed by Commonwealth Edison and Ameren Illinois.
The measure was sponsored by Jacobs, whose father, former state Sen. Denny Jacobs, also is a lobbyist for ComEd.
During the debate, McCarter highlighted the family ties, which triggered Jacobs to later walk across the aisle to confront McCarter.
Said Jacobs, “I told him that kind of question should be raised to me personally rather than on the floor during a major bill. I thought it was really kind of beneath him.”
“I just wanted to make it clear to him that we have to work together and I look forward to working with him in the future. As I said earlier, if I hurt his feelings he should file a workers’ comp claim,” Jacobs quipped.
McCarter said he stands by his public comments.
“It’s just wrong,” he said. “The legislative process is in need of sunshine and accountability, not a process that picks winners based on money, power, backroom deals or slick political maneuvering by power, connected lobbyists.
“That’s a very good example of what’s wrong in this state. The legislative process and behavior we were treated to tonight give our state a black eye and the citizens of Illinois should not tolerate it.”