RFI Statement: Governor Pritzker, keep your promise on ethics

In Governor Pritzker’s State of the State address last year, he committed to fighting for a series of meaningful ethics reforms to address our endless corruption scandals and begin rebuilding Illinoisans’ shattered trust in their state government.

The ethics bill the legislature passed last week falls short of every one of those promises. 

Here’s what Governor Pritzker told Illinoisans in 2020:

“Most states have a revolving door provision for legislators, and it’s time for Illinois to join them. Elected officials shouldn’t be allowed to retire and immediately start lobbying their former colleagues. It’s wrong, and it’s got to stop.”

The new bill’s skimpy revolving door provision still allows legislators to retire one day and lobby their former colleagues the next. Only if a lawmaker resigns before the end of their term might they have to wait for any time at all, and then just a paltry six months at most. That gives Illinois one of the weakest revolving door provisions in the country.

“Disclosure of conflicts of interest and punishment for breaching them must be included in any ethics package for us to truly clean up government.”

The new bill doesn’t require adequate reporting of outside financial interests and doesn’t require legislators to disclose when they have a conflict in a legislative matter. Nor does it offer any enforcement mechanism to punish those who breach conflict of interest guidelines.

“It’s time to end the practice of legislators serving as paid lobbyists. In fact it’s time to end the for-profit influence peddling among all elected officials at every level of government in Illinois.”

The new bill leaves a loophole in that promise, only banning a subset of state legislator-lobbyists whose employers are registered to lobby both the General Assembly and localities.

“Restoring the public’s trust is of paramount importance. Let’s not let the well-connected and well-protected work the system while the interests of ordinary citizens are forgotten.”

We couldn’t agree more. The Governor has said he wanted more from the bill. We urge him to show Illinoisans that he’s serious about reform, and use his amendatory veto power to fight for the real change the people of Illinois deserve.  


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