CHICAGO – August 18, 2009. Just one day after signing reform legislation to increase openness and transparency in state government, Governor Pat Quinn today signed a bill to strengthen the Governmental Ethics Act. The legislation forbids the promise of state jobs and contracts or political favors in exchange for campaign contributions and increases scrutiny of officials, state workers and lobbyists.
“When I took office on January 29, I pledged to reform Illinois government,” Governor Quinn said. “By strengthening our state ethics laws, I am making state employees and officials more accountable to the people they serve – the taxpayers of Illinois.”
The strengthened Governmental Ethics Act requires state employees responsible for procuring goods or services to fill out an economic disclosure form, including detailing relationships with outside entities that may create a conflict of interest. It also makes changes to the State Officials Employees Ethics Act (SOEE), including shortening the timeframe for new employees to take their initial ethics training to the first 30 days of employment (from six months) and requires employees to certify completion of training.
Senate Bill 54 expands the duties and investigative powers of the Executive Inspectors General and increases the jurisdiction of the Inspector General of the Secretary of State to include investigations of wrongdoing by any person or entity related to the Lobbyist Registration Act.
Sponsored by Sen. Susan Garrett (D-Lake Forest) and House Speaker Michael J. Madigan (D-Chicago), the bill expands the prohibited “promises or offers” language in return for political contributions in the SOEE Act to include: employment benefits; board or commission appointments; awarding of any public contracts; and any action or inaction in any legislative or regulatory matter; and expands “revolving door” prohibitions for applicable state employees and family members who have a role in procuring and/or awarding state contracts.