Wednesday, January 03, 2007

An attack on 'pay to play'

Unfortunately, the number one issue in the recent campaign season were the allegations of pay to play that were being constantly made, rejected, and debated. Likely the number one political issue covered by the media was the same subject.

So I think it fitting that addressing this, and related, issues should be a number one priority of the 95th General Assembly.

To that end, I am the chief sponsor of
House Bill 1, legislation that was an initiative of Comptroller Dan Hynes, which would curtail the underlying actions which give rise to pay to play allegations.

In sum, the bill prohibits those holding contracts over $25,000 from making a political contribution to the officeholder who awarded the contract. The bill further requires, as part of hte procurement process, bidders on state contracts worth more than $10,000 to disclose all campaign contributions for the prior two years to the officeholder awarding the contract. The contribution ban would be in effect for the length of the officeholder's term or for two years past the completion of hte contract, whichever is greater.

We had introduced this bill last session as HB4073 with bipartisan support in both chambers. Myself and Rep. Bill Black were the lead House sponsors. Sens. del Valle and Dillard were the main Senate sponsors. The bill was never released from the Rules Committee.

Our efforts picked up a significant boost today via an editorial from the Chicago Tribune titled 'An attack on 'pay to play'. The Trib support is notable not only for its substance but also in light of the fact that the paper has historically opposed any attempts to limit campaign contributions. But despite this, they rightfully recognize that something needs to be done.
This page dislikes limits on free speech. But enough corruption is enough. Private-sector workers often accept as a condition of employment limits on what they may say. The limits in House Bill 1 would fall on firms as a condition of doing business with the state. Fair enough.
One of my biggest concerns about the charges, and findings, of corruption around Springfield over the last so many years is that they divert so much time and attention away from the issues that we should be focused upon. The Tribune editorial board nicely crystallized the problem like this:
Last fall, thousands of column inches, hours of airtime and miles of campaign trail were consumed by talk of Illinois' corrupt government. That meant those thousands of column inches, hours of airtime and miles of campaign trail were not spent discussing critical state issues: Our public school system produces students unable to compete in a global economy. We've heaped so much long-term debt on taxpayers to pay for lofty programs and public employee benefits, the state risks insolvency. The list goes on.
As I write this post, I have no firm idea of what the future holds for HB1. I do know that it enjoys the support of a broad-based coalition of good government groups, a number of constitutional officers, many legislators, and I would presume the vast majority of Illinoisans. I am hopeful that the words from campaign trails around the state will be translated into results.

In the closing words of the Tribune.

If they're asked to say yea or nay on this bill, legislators who talked the talk about ethics reform in the fall campaign will have to perform a mighty clever tap dance to explain a "no" vote.

The question is, Will House Bill 1 ever be called for a vote? Millions of us will be watching.

10 Comments:

At January 4, 2007 at 9:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rep,

You have been consistent in your support of ethics reform & a staunch advocate for real change in this area. Could you shed a little light on a related subject for me? There has been a slew of articles highlighting some of the recent laws enacted, one being a prohibition against felons becoming fundraisers. Why is it that they should be able to run for elected office & have their buddies fundraise for them? I'm assuming there are some constitutional concerns, but it just seems like it plants the seeds for further stories like what we've all become all too accustomed to.

 
At January 4, 2007 at 12:17 PM, Anonymous DuPage Saint said...

If you really wanbt to reform play to pay make it legal to make a contribution only if you are a registered voter and live in the district of the candidate. Stops corporations, unions and minor children from contributing. And, if you live in Rep A district cannot contribute to Rep B etc. Also, make sure the TOTAL contract awarded in less than $25,000 not five at 24,500. And as to felons, once convicted shot them or if paroled send them to an island someplace or Pekin. No such thing as rehab so why bother.

 
At January 4, 2007 at 1:22 PM, Anonymous fedup dem said...

I fear that any chance that this bill will see a floor vote will evaporate once 60 of your colleagues yell out the name "Madigan" on the roll call vote for Speaker next week. The Speaker is the main obstacle to reform.

 
At January 4, 2007 at 2:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You address contributions "to the officeholder awarding the contract". Doesn't that leave huge loopholes? The money will still be flowing through 3rd parties if necessary.
When a politician retires, what happens to all those excess campaign contributions that he accumulated over the years? They get to pocket it, right? So, in effect, 'political contributions' are actually bribes. Shouldn't it be law that campaign contributions be spent on campaigns only? Anything not spent on campaigning should be returned or given to charity.

 
At January 4, 2007 at 10:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Madigan will be the death of the Democratic Party of Illinois. The party is on a collision course with the newly-established Illinois Green Party; and Madigan has yet to allow out of Rules the instant runoff voting bills that would eliminate the so-called spoiler effect.

 
At January 5, 2007 at 4:58 PM, Anonymous Patrick McDonough said...

I think you just described Mayor Daley's pay to play politics! Worked for years why change Chicago Politics? Also do you think Mayor Daley should debate his black challengers?

 
At January 8, 2007 at 10:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

anonymous speaks lucidly:

>>"You address contributions "to the officeholder awarding the contract". Doesn't that leave huge loopholes? The money will still be flowing through 3rd parties if necessary. "<<

It's true. Perhaps you could address all the moneys that flow from candidate to candidate. Leaders get huge contributions and then funnel money to other candidates who need a cash boost.

It seems money really does speak volumes. Look at the current ComEd "An Excelon Company" debacle. Pay $30,000 to Emil Jones, and you get the senate blocked. Pay only $18,000 to Madigan and a quasi-reform bill gets passed.

How about stopping industries and trade unions from making large contributions to legislators who sit on committees that control bills they need passed? In fact,

I realize you're trying to do something "doable", but the fish stinks from the head down to the tail fin.

dupage saint (if you ignore the insane commend about convicts) really gets it!

>>"If you really wanbt to reform play to pay make it legal to make a contribution only if you are a registered voter and live in the district of the candidate. Stops corporations, unions and minor children from contributing. "<<

 
At January 8, 2007 at 3:22 PM, Anonymous PL said...

John
You leave us wanting. You don't tell us why the bill would not see the floor (reps x y and z oppose it) and you don't provide us with a method to make sure it does... ie phone your rep heres the numbers phone madigan here is his number.

Sitting there talking a good game but only wishing it goes forward sure doesn't seem very proactive on your part.

 
At January 20, 2007 at 2:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

it was never released from the Rules committee because two of the sponsors were you and Rep. Black. Is that surprising to you, John?

 
At January 21, 2007 at 3:55 PM, Blogger Hon. John Fritchey said...

I'm confident that the status of the bill last session had much more to do with its content rather than its sponsors.

And PL, there is a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes in trying to move legislation. I'm continuing my efforts to advance the measure, and feel that I have been more than 'proactive' on this issue.

Like the Bears game that I'm in the middle of watching, sometimes to win, you have to move the ball a little bit at a time before you get it across the goal line.

 

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