Transparency, Consistency in Lobbying Needed
As Illinois struggles with deficits and a failing economy, it is critical to understand the behind-the-scenes lobbying that fuels the state's political decision-making. That calls for more transparency in Springfield, but on this issue, Illinois' record is decidedly mixed.
According to State-Level Lobbying and Taxpayers, a recent study that examines lobbying disclosure laws and accessibility to the disclosed information at the state level, Illinois ranked 21st overall among the 50 states with a score of 54.7 percent. This is only slightly above the national average of 51.5 percent. Illinois' performance could have been much stronger except for the state's odd contrast.
Illinois is one of the nation's leaders in requiring lobbying disclosure. It ranked sixth in the nation in terms of its lobbying disclosure laws. The study examined 37 different aspects of these laws. The analysis included the breadth of registration for lobbying activities, the degree of reporting required and exemptions for government.
The Prairie State received a score of 27 out of 37, or 73 percent, well above the national average of 59 percent. It's not sufficient, however, simply to require lobbying activities to be disclosed. The information must be accessible to interested citizens, journalists and lawmakers in a timely and easy manner if it is to prove productive and useful. On that key issue, Illinois performs poorly.
State-Level Lobbying and Taxpayers analyzed 22 aspects of accessibility, including whether current and historical data was available, how detailed the data available was and the accessibility of the Website. Illinois received a dismal score of 8 out of 22 (36 percent), ranking it 31st.
Illinois' portal for lobbying information does not contain historical data that allows users to understand and analyze trends over time. …