VIDEO from Fox Chicago News discusses the incident between Sen. Mike Jacobs and Sen. Kyle McCarter.
At least one lawmaker who witnessed an altercation Tuesday on the Senate floor between state senators Mike Jacobs and Kyle McCarter painted Sen. Jacobs as the aggressor and backed up Sen. McCarter's allegation that Sen. Jacobs punched him in the chest.
State Sen. Tim Bivins, R-Dixon, who sits to the right of Sen. McCarter, R-Decatur, on the Senate floor, said Wednesday, "Jacobs got very angry and swore at Sen. McCarter and punched him in the chest.
"It started with his finger pointed. From what I saw, it looked to me that (Sen. Jacobs') fist extended to Sen. McCarter.
"It was hard enough that it knocked (Sen. McCarter) backwards. It didn't knock him down, but you could hear the thud."
Sen. Bivins said that is when he personally intervened.
"As soon as (Sen. Jacobs, D-East Moline) hit McCarter, I jumped toward McCarter's desk and reached out and put my hand out toward Sen. Jacobs' chest and put my other hand out to Sen. McCarter," he said. "I wanted to make sure there was enough room between them. I yelled at Sen. Jacobs to get off the Senate floor. He cursed at Sen. McCarter, then he left."
According to Sen. McCarter, Sen. Jacobs approached him combatively following a Senate floor debate Tuesday on a bill sponsored by Sen. Jacobs and lobbied for by his father, Denny Jacobs.
Sen. McCarter, during the debate, rose an issue of conflict of interest.
"After the debate, Sen. Jacobs came to my seat using profanity and pointing his finger before he punched me with his fist in my chest," he said in a written statement released Wednesday.
Sen. Jacobs could not be reached for comment. Sen. McCarter is "full of sh**," to have implied a conflict of interest, he told Fox Chicago News Tuesday.
"In fact, (his father's lobbying) is disclosed. I've disclosed it," Sen. Jacobs added. "People in my district know it, and they can make a decision based on that. But the one thing I will not allow to happen is to have anyone question my integrity, especially someone who couldn't even really polish my shoes."
Sen. McCarter reported the incident to the State Capitol Police in Springfield. "The capitol police report has not been finalized. We do not comment on incidents until reports are finalized," spokesperson Henry Haupt said.
The report likely will be released on Thursday because statements from others present were being compiled, he said.
The bill that caused the alleged altercation was Senate Bill 1652. The bill, if signed into law, would allow the state's largest utilities providers, Commonwealth Edison (ComEd) and Ameren, to bypass the Illinois Commerce Commission in levying an increase in electric rates to help pay for a modernization of the power grid in Illinois.
The providers assert the modernization will improve energy performance and create jobs.
The bill was passed by both the Illinois House and Senate and now is headed to Gov. Pat Quinn's desk. The governor, along with Attorney General Lisa Madigan, the Illinois Commerce Commission and various consumer groups publicly have opposed the bill. Gov. Quinn is expected to veto it.
According to Lobbying Activity Detail Reports on file with the Illinois Secretary of State, Denny Jacobs, a former state senator, is a paid lobbyist for ComEd. In a report filed Feb. 17, he wrote he had "lobbied two legislators on bill pertaining to the electrical grid system." It was one of several reports he filed his year listing lobbying efforts on the bill.
The report does not name the two lawmakers. Mr. Jacobs said his son was not one of them.
"I do not lobby Mike on any issue," he said. "I lobby other legislators."
Sen. Jacobs is SB 1652's chief sponsor. He also is chairman of the Senate Energy Committee. Sen. McCarter said he called attention to this during the debate, leading to Sen. Jacobs' alleged actions.
"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 powerful, connected lobbyists," Sen. McCarter said.
"The legislative process and behavior we were treated to (Tuesday) give our state a black eye and the citizens of Illinois should not tolerate it. ... Sen. Jacob’s behavior was uncalled for and beneath the dignity of the Senate," he added.
The matter is being "blown out of proportion" as a political ploy, Denny Jacobs said.
"Everything I've heard is (Sen. McCarter) is over blowing it," he said. "No one was hit. It was a confrontation that was blown out of proportion. That's the way I hear it. At the end of session there, sometimes tempers get the best of people and confrontations exist.
"But there were no fisticuffs. ... It's political in nature. The guy was opposed to the bill. As I've heard from everyone on the floor, it was nothing. It was just that tempers got the best of them. No one was physically hurt."
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