Real Ethics Reform

The two pieces of ethics reform legislation introduced by Illinois Democrats and passed by a majority of the House and Senate garnered split support among Republicans.

On its face, ethics reform sounds like a good plan - and it is. But the reason many Republican lawmakers are in opposition to these enactments is because they do not sufficiently address the situation and, in fact, are simply posturing by those who support them. Based on the text of these two pieces of legislation - SB1639 and HJR93 - there is no real reform being presented. Sure, they sound good, but what do they actually accomplish?

SB1639 adds language to the existing Lobbyist Registration Act to include subcontractors in the registration. Well, that's great, but the problem is not with the lobbyists but with the legislators.

HJR93 creates a commission of appointed individuals to review current ethics legislation and make recommendations for future legislation. Great...another commission. As many Republicans have noted, the composition of this commission is primarily Democrat-led. An argument by Democrats is that the commission is filled by staff members who have no party affiliation. I wonder if they would feel the same if these appointees were staff members of Republicans. Probably not.

Now, I understand why it could be beneficial to have representatives from the Secretary of State's office and the Attorney General's office. However, when these offices are controlled by a political party, it opens the door for more posturing and less actual reform.

The bottom line is that the corruption we've seen thus far from our Illinois legislators has been committed primarily by Democrats and, specifically, Cook County Democrats. That's why I'm appalled to find that Dave Severin - who is supposed to be a conservative Republican - voted in favor of both of these pieces of legislation. I can only assume he did so in order to use the votes as a way of presenting himself as someone who favors ethics reform. Yet, his record of casting votes in return for favors and using campaign contributions for his own business indicate that he is part of the problem.

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