In the wake of the Blagojevich scandal, many activists and civic-minded residents are hoping that 2009 is the year the Illinois General Assembly finally reforms the state's lax campaign finance laws. In January, we highlighted a batch of campaign finance reform measures ...
In the wake of the Blagojevich scandal, many activists and civic-minded residents are hoping that 2009 is the year the Illinois General Assembly finally reforms the state's lax campaign finance laws. In January, we highlighted a batch of campaign finance reform measures that are being considered in Springfield. Today, the CHANGE Illinois coalition led a rally in downtown Chicago demanding that the legislature place a cap on campaign contributions. Below are some excerpts from the various speakers' remarks.
Illinois Campaign for Political Reform's Cindi Canary echoed her recent Progress Illinois column on why the Prairie State is a breeding ground for political corruption:
"Here we've got a system so wide open that that it's like a main thoroughfare with no stop light. For years we've been talking about the links between contributions and contracts. It's the biggest open secret in Illinois ... I have no doubt that we'll get reform. But will it be meaningful or will [elected officials] go after low hanging fruit?"
Rami Nashashiba, director of the Inner City Muslim Action Network :
"[Corruption] means much more to us in communities where families are struggling to get by. When the state of Illinois gets a corruption cold, it's us that gets the bone-chilling flu ... Without political integrity there's not political will to do what's right."
Patricia Watkins, TARGET Area Redevelopment Corp.:
"We're saying no more pay-to-play in Illinois ... We want to give everyday people -- the voters -- back their voices in Illinois government. We have been silenced long enough. So now we are saying enough ... It's going to take you, you, you, and you and every one of us to be a part of that change."
Peter Bensinger, owner of Bensinger, Dupont & Assoc.:
"The problem -- and it's a big problem -- is not with one individual. It's with the system. We need to change the system. We need to limit campaign contributions. Businesses in this state are paying for a tax that doesn't appear on their tax [bill]. It's the corruption tax. It's the fear of 'How much do I need to pay to get attention?' "
Merri Dee, AARP Illinois State President:
"I am so tired of traveling around and I meet people ... and they say "Where are you from?" and I say 'Chicago' and they say 'Illinois, ha, ha, ha,' and they laugh ... I am furious about that. I take it personally and that's what you need to do. You need to take it personally."
Chuy Garcia, director of Enlace Chicago:
"The reason that politicians and politics have become a bad name is because of the corrupting influence of big money in politics. Big money in politics separates legislators from their constituents. It confuses them. It makes them deviate form the important issues ... because big money trumps the agenda of common people ... I am so happy to join with you today as a recovering politician in saying we will clean up the system."