Ethics Reform: Is That All?

Springfield Capitol and sky in Springfield, Illinois (GoodFreePhotos.com)

The Better Government Association stands with Reform for Illinois, Common Cause Illinois and CHANGE Illinois in voicing deep disappointment with the feeble ethics bill passed May 31 by the General Assembly.

The bill, which cleared both houses and soon will be on its way to Gov. J.B. Pritzker, contains some incremental improvements that are long overdue. But this legislation has been 18 months in the making. It’s fair to ask: Is that all?

The work of the Joint Commission on Ethics and Lobbying Reform highlighted many deficiencies in the state’s ethics laws. This legislation barely scratches the surface. 

This follows an unfortunate historic pattern: Elected officials promised to clean up Illinois government in response to the licenses-for-bribes scandal that sent Gov. George Ryan to prison, and again after the impeachment and conviction of Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Many of the reforms that didn’t happen then didn’t happen this time, either.

This moment calls for much more than our lawmakers have delivered.

The BGA and its allies have advocated for a package of reforms that collectively would ensure that public officials act in the public interest and not their own. The bill approved by the General Assembly comes up short in every category. 

Our joint platform is shared below.