Senator GillespieOriginally published in the Sun-Times print edition on Aug. 8.

We’ve seen ethical lapses in politics time and again in Illinois, and each time we move to set up a better mouse trap, the mice get smarter. Ethics is an ever-changing issue that requires continual work to hold bad actors accountable.

That’s why we created the first standing ethics committee to adapt to new abuses of power – and this year the committee delivered a comprehensive package that offers specific solutions to the recent scandals we’ve seen in the legislature.

If our bipartisan ethics package is signed into law, for the first time, there will be a standard for lobbying and disclosure of interests at all levels of government – state, local and county.

Our bipartisan proposal was months in the works and the product of input from both sides of the aisle. It should serve as a statement from honest lawmakers that we expect commonsense adherence to the rules and are tired of the abuses that erode trust in our institutions.

It pulls back the veil of secrecy on consultants advising lobbyists, requiring them to be publicly registered. We saw this in the federal investigation that revealed several individuals were working as undisclosed lobbyists for ComEd. Without closing this critical loophole, any revolving door ban would have little effect.

Our work is a signature away from being the law.

For years, fundraisers have been held the night before legislative session – the night before committee and floor votes. Our bill ends these “night before” fundraisers, not just in Springfield, but statewide.

It prohibits lawmakers, mayors and county officials from lobbying units of government on behalf of an organization that lobbies them, so that they can’t take payment from outside groups for legislative work.

We also empowered our Legislative Inspector General to launch investigations without the prior approval of the Legislative Ethics Commission. This includes investigations stemming from anonymous complaints, so that victims can feel safe when reporting to the inspector general’s office.

All of these reforms are only a signature away from becoming law.

Does more need to be done? Yes. And my colleagues and I are already at work introducing other needed reforms. But Illinois has a tremendous opportunity right now to take a needed step forward.

I encourage Gov. J.B. Pritzker to sign this bipartisan law. It represents real progress. Anything else would be a step back to a broken status quo.

Category: News

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