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Think tank says ethics reform package falls short

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Wednesday, October 13, 2021  |  Article  |  Kevin Bessler

Ethics, Campaign Reform, Transparency (12a)

Gov. J.B. Pritzker has signed into law an ethics reform package, but some are saying more needs to be done.

 

The legislation includes a ban on lawmakers from becoming lobbyists in the first six months after they leave office, increased financial transparency from elected officials, and the Legislative Inspector General has independent authority in investigations within government after a complaint has been filed.

 

“Passing real, lasting ethics reform was a top priority of mine going into the 2020 legislative session and I’m pleased to move forward with an ethics package that includes a number of meaningful changes,” Pritzker said. “We must restore the public's trust in our government and this legislation is a necessary first step to achieve that goal.”

 

Amy Korte, vice president of policy for the Illinois Policy Institute, said there are too many restrictions on the Legislative Inspector General.

 

“The fact that the Legislative Inspector General can’t even subpoena documents or witnesses to support the investigation into a complaint, that is definitely an impediment to undertaking a thorough investigation,” Korte said.

 

Korte said there should be at least a one-year buffer between the time a lawmaker leaves office and becomes a lobbyist, bringing Illinois more in line with other states.

 

Democrats within the General Assembly have said that they want the reform bill to be a starting point and not an end to more ethics reform legislation.

 

Korte said the bill is a start to delivering on the basic anti-corruption measures the people of Illinois deserve, but further reforms are needed.

 

“Public pressure has resulted in the legislature having to address this issue, and I think the public really needs to keep it up so that lawmakers’ feet are held to the fire and they continue to make meaningful reforms that are needed,” Korte said.