Banning Pay to Play

A bunch of editorials in the week shows how people outside the capitol view work under the dome. All too often, money seems to set policy. The quest for campaign dollars seems to drive contracts, leases, and other expenditures from the public purse, with the understanding that some of that public money will be kicked back to the public official's campaign fund.

This isn't how every contact is let, and there may be good reasons for choosing a vendor who has given large donations to candidates. But the stories happen so often, with such large amounts of money involved, and frequently with so little in the way of taxpayer benefits, that the time has come to regulate these transactions.

Two of these editorials are on line, and they're worth quoting. The St. Louis Post Dispatch this week called for reform, noting "Illinois government is notorious for corruption. Candidates for high political office attract contractors eager for state business who are willing to lay campaign contributions at their feet. Gov. Rod Blagojevich collected $234,000 from state contractors in the week before last November's election."

And the Chicago Sun-Times, speaking for the entire Sun Times News Group, also urges, " The Senate should move quickly to adopt the House bill."

Both of these papers note that a better solution would be to limit all giving, rather than just giving between contractors and contractees. And while we agree, we also support viable, consensus solutions. Discussions on broader limits can continue, but unless someone can prove that taxpayers get better services because vendors can make unlimited donations to the official who oversees their contracts, HB 1 ought to become law.