Sweeping Campaign Funding, Contracting Reforms Urged

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), April 1, 2009 | Go to article overview
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Sweeping Campaign Funding, Contracting Reforms Urged


Byline: Joseph Ryan Politics and Projects Editor jryan@dailyherald.com

Campaign donors should be limited in how much they can give and the power to dole out contracts needs to be isolated from political influence to help eradicate rampant corruption in Illinois, a reform commission proposed Tuesday.

Declaring the "burden of proof has shifted," commission Chairman Patrick Collins, a former federal prosecutor, argues the stateAEs mostly wide-open campaign donation and contracting system can no longer be justified.

"The leadership in Springfield will hopefully listen to us," said Collins, who put former Gov. George Ryan in prison for corruption.

While Collins was pushing his reform agenda, legislative leaders advanced their own plans Tuesday. House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton, both Chicago Democrats, proposed dumping every state pension board member appointed by now-ousted Gov. Rod Blagojevich and letting Gov. Pat Quinn pick replacements. These boards were embroiled in investment scandals during BlagojevichAEs tenure.

"It gives us an opportunity to start anew," Cullerton told members of the House Executive Committee that approved the plan, which includes myriad ethical and financial restrictions for new pension board members.

Afterward, Madigan said this is the first proposal to come from a reform panel he and Cullerton created, saying contracting and purchasing is likely next.

The legislative panel is distinct from CollinsAE Illinois Reform Commission, which was created by Quinn in the wake of BlagojevichAEs arrest on charges he shook down contractors, contenders for a U.S. Senate appointment and even the CEO of a childrenAEs hospital for large campaign donations.

Blagojevich denies any wrongdoing. A formal federal indictment is expected in the coming days.

Federal corruption investigations are ongoing into state, Cook County and Chicago government.

Collins told the Daily Herald editorial board he knows even the best-planned laws canAEt stop intent criminals.

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