Don Harmon

Oak Park state Sen. Don Harmon (39th), who was elected earlier this month to replace John Cullerton as president of the Illinois Senate, gave reformers and anti-corruption advocates reason for optimism last week when he told Chicago Tonight he’s stepping down as partner at Burke Burns & Pinelli, Ltd. 

Harmon has worked at the law firm since 2005, where he specializes in corporate law and civil litigation, according to the firm’s website. 

“I just don’t have the time capacity to be a good Senate president and to practice law the way I’ve practiced it,” Harmon told Chicago Tonight. It’s a break from tradition. The job didn’t keep Cullerton from practicing law and it hasn’t kept Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan from being a property tax attorney.  

Despite a series of ongoing federal investigations that implicate numerous Democratic lawmakers at the local and state levels, including Madigan, Harmon refrained from citing ethical concerns as a reason for stepping back from private practice. 

“It is important that people have real-world experiences,” Harmon said. “Unless you want to overhaul the system and make everybody a full-time politician, I have a strong belief in a citizen legislature.” 

Michael Romain 

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