ICPR WELCOMES REJECTION OF GOVERNOR’S VETO OF PAY-TO-PLAY REFORM LEGISLATION

The Illinois Senate on Monday rejected Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s veto of House Bill 824, legislation banning political contributions by state contractors to the officeholder awarding the contract. Because the House previously voted overwhelmingly in favor of overriding the veto, the Senate approval is final action, and the original bill will become law on January 1, 2009.

The Illinois Campaign for Political Reform (ICPR) released the following statement from Cynthia Canary, Director of ICPR:

“So many big campaign contributors have wound up with state contracts that Illinois has won a reputation as a state where you have to pay a campaign fund to win a government contract. Over time, pay-to-play schemes seemed so numerous that some honest contractors stopped trying to do business with state government, driving up costs to taxpayers and making Illinoisans question the honesty and fairness of their state government.

“By enacting these reforms, the General Assembly has made it much more difficult for pay-to-play to flourish. Unethical officeholders and contractors still will look for ways to game the system, but better rules will be in place to police contracting and to make it more difficult for favors to be awarded in exchange for campaign funds.

“More must be done to improve the fairness of Illinois elections and government. There should be reasonable limits on the amount of money anyone can give to all political candidates. We need improved disclosure of lobbyist activities and enforcement of laws regulating lobbyists. We should lessen the influence of special interest money in judicial election campaigns. We should strengthen the enforcement of campaign and government disclosure laws.

“The reform community greatly appreciates the perseverance of the sponsors of HB 824, the support of most of the leaders of the General Assembly, and the commitment of five of the six statewide elected leaders. The General Assembly has listened to the people of Illinois and enacted much needed pay-to-play reforms. We now need to work together to build on that reform and do more to improve the integrity, accountability and transparency of state government.”

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