Springfield, IL… In response to the news that the recently formed Joint Commission on Ethics and Lobbying Reform will hold its first meeting, State Representative Margo McDermed (R-Mokena) is urging their consideration of her newly filed legislation.
“Our side of the aisle has concerns about the seriousness of this commission and the commitment of the majority party to actually make substantive changes to Springfield’s culture of corruption, and this first meeting isn’t helping change our minds,” Rep. McDermed said. The Democrat Co-Chairs of the Commission announced on Wednesday that the first meeting is set for Monday, December 23rd, a date that will likely result in a number of absences from members and little to no coverage by news outlets due to its proximity to Christmas.
“To say I was disappointed that a year filled with countless ethical violations and criminal federal probes resulted in the legislature doing nothing but creating yet another commission, is an understatement,” Rep. McDermed continued. “There’s some obvious low hanging fruit we can tackle right away, which is why I’ve filed some common sense ethical reforms.” Rep. McDermed filed House Bill 3997 and House Bill 3998 on December 16th.
HB 3997 seeks to rectify a longtime statehouse problem by creating a revolving door ban. Specifically, it would ban lawmakers who resign from their post from taking a job as an Illinois lobbyist for the remainder of the term of office from which they resigned, or one year, whichever is longer. Illinois is one of only a handful of states with no revolving door restrictions on lawmakers.
“Illinois law bans former state employees from going to work for companies that do business with the state, why are we holding lawmakers to a lower standard?” Rep. McDermed asked. “Members like former State Representative Lou Lang are able to retire one day and return to the state capital the next as a lobbyist, which is ethically dubious to say the least. It is even more so when you realize that many lawmakers have a significant role in selecting their replacement, as was the case with Lang and, more recently, disgraced Representative Arroyo.”
HB 3998 requires members of the General Assembly to include on a statement of economic interest the identity of any client or entity with whom the person making the statement, or their spouse, maintains an economic association. Additionally, they must state if they or their spouse has derived income other than the salary received as a member of the General Assembly during the preceding calendar year related to that association, including the total dollar amount of such income received.
During veto session, stricter reporting on economic disclosure statements was originally part of a milquetoast lobbying reform bill, Senate Bill 1639, before a meeting of the Democrat Caucus resulted in the legislation being further watered down with its removal.
Rep. McDermed finished by saying, “restoring Illinoisans’ faith in state government and finally ridding ourselves of our reputation as a nationwide laughing stock on corruption is a monumental task. If this commission is truly prepared to tackle the issue, they should start here.”