Word out of Springfield this morning is that Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) has pulled a series of ethics measures from today's docket. The apparent reason, according to the Tribune: Republican lawmakers "offered to pick up recommendations from Quinn's ...
Word out of Springfield this morning is that Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) has pulled a series of ethics measures from today's docket. The apparent reason, according to the Tribune: Republican lawmakers "offered to pick up recommendations from Quinn's reform panel that were at odds with what Democratic legislative leaders had proposed." Indeed, Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno -- who sponsored a $10,000 cap earlier this session -- has reportedly signed on to a bill to limit campaign contributions at $2,400, as the reform commission recommended.
Cullerton's move also comes as numerous editorial pages rejected the idea that the Senate Democrats' watered-down Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) amendment, weak campaign contribution caps, and rejection of legislative pay raises amount to real reform.
Below is a sampling of editorial opinion from across the state.
From the Tribune:
[O]n Wednesday, we got a good look at what the rest of this "significant and far-reaching reform package" might look like. It is, in a word, appalling ...
There are a lot of excellent reform proposals in the hopper, but the session is winding down and most of them seem to be getting worse instead of better.
So when lawmakers boast about passing a law to end passive pay raises, it's important to recognize the gesture for what it is: They're throwing you a bone. Make sure you let them know you want more, much more, or you won't get it.
They're not looking out for you, they're looking out for themselves.
The Sun-Times editorial board takes on the Senate Democrats' plan to limit indvidual campaign contributions to $5,000 per calendar year and insitutional contributions to $10,000:
Madigan, Cullerton, et al, have decided they might be willing to enact campaign contribution limits on individuals, businesses and unions -- but limits that are so high and generous they would be virtually meaningless. And, of course, Madigan, Cullerton, et al, show absolutely no willingness to limit their own ability to shower money on their fellow politicians.
In short, under the ruse of reform, our state's political leaders -- especially Madigan and Cullerton -- would effectively increase their own power by marginally reining in campaign contributions by everybody else, except themselves.
Nifty trick, no?
The Peoria Journal Star focuses on the big loophole in the Senate plan: unrestricted transfers from the legislative leaders' hefty campaign accounts:
[U]ltimately any progress here is undone with no ceilings being imposed on the largesse of legislative leaders, and might be a step backward. If you believe as we do that the speaker of the House and the Senate president have too much muscle now, this arguably would give them more, making rank-and-file members even more dependent on them while tying up the wallets of others. It's tantamount to no reform at all; as such, a deal-breaker.
More from the Daily Herald:
At the same time, efforts to improve our now-lame Freedom of Information Act are in jeopardy. There had been a plan supported by many to strengthen penalties on those who violate the law and give the attorney general power to enforce it. Now, House and Senate leaders are talking about dropping those. Their new version would shield address information on arrestees and public employees. Further, it also would add broad exemptions that would give governments greater cover to operate in secret and to keep settlements private that involve your tax dollars [...]
These two moves don't do anything to cleanse corruption. They increase the clout of those in control and allow more chances for them to operate in shadows. There are only nine days left in the legislative session. We call on every Illinoisan reading this to call the legislative leaders and their legislators and tell them these ideas simply cannot become law.
And Metropolis 2020's George Ranney, a member of the CHANGE Illinois Coalition, offers this reminder:
“Illinois is in the spotlight, and the world is watching to see whether we will change the rules that have contributed to the corruption that has embarrassed this state."