In the wake of another
gubernatorial scandal, state legislative leaders formed the Joint
Committee on Government Reform to develop solutions for the state’s lax ethics and campaign finance systems. In its first meeting yesterday, lawmakers' political bickering ended up ...
In the wake of another gubernatorial scandal, state legislative leaders formed the Joint Committee on Government Reform to develop solutions for the state’s lax ethics and campaign finance systems. In its first meeting yesterday, lawmakers' political bickering ended up topping the agenda, rather than solving the vast problems at hand. Specifically, the GOP "pushed to add more of their members to the committee, which has 10 Democrats and six Republicans."
This is petty stuff. Like all other committees, the partisan composition of the reform committee reflects the General Assembly’s make-up more broadly. If the GOP wants equal representation across the board, they need to win more elections.
Thankfully, not all was lost. Attorney General Lisa Madigan offered some solid recommendations to open up the “culture of secrecy” Gov. Blagojevich cultivated in Springfield, including a rewrite of the state’s Freedom of Information Act. And Terry Pastika, executive director of the Citizen Advocacy Center in DuPage County, testified in favor of updating the use of technology to make documents better available to the public.
But Sen. John Cullerton’s interview with the Daily Herald earlier this week casts doubt over whether he’ll usher any serious reforms through the General Assembly:
Cullerton told the Daily Herald editorial board Monday he thinks Illinois’ wide-open campaign finance system is just fine and repeated the mantra of lawmakers who have long refused systemic change: disclosure, disclosure, disclosure.
Cullerton also insisted that what former Gov. Rod Blagojevich is accused of doing -- and what ex-Gov. George Ryan was convicted of doing -- are aberrations of Illinois politics and not the norm or a process tempted by such a wide-open fundraising system.
Aberrations? According to University of Illinois, Chicago professor Dick Simpson (PDF), before Gov. Blagojevich's arrest there had been three governors, two congressmen, 19 Cook County judges, 30 Aldermen, and various state legislators convicted of corruption -- all since 1972! As we highlighted in our feature article on the topic, Illinois has some of the weakest campaign finance systems in the country. The two are certainly correlated.
"Disclosure, disclosures, disclosure" just isn’t going to cut it. Laws with teeth will. And they need to be enacted soon.
(H/T Capitol Fax)