CHICAGO – July 11, 2010. Governor Pat Quinn today announced the signing of significant ethics reform legislation. The new laws require elected officials convicted of public corruption to forfeit money derived from the corrupt activity; and prohibit state funds from being used to finance a portrait of a governor who has been impeached and removed from office.
“The people of Illinois have demanded reform and greater responsibility from their elected officials,” said Governor Quinn. “These new laws will help root out corruption in Illinois and stop elected officials from benefiting from violating the public trust.”
Senate Bill 2551, sponsored by Sen. Dan Kotowski (D-Park Ridge) and Rep. Mark Walker (D-Arlington Heights), creates the Public Corruption Profit Forfeiture Act. Under the new law, elected officials convicted of public corruption will forfeit all profit derived from the corrupt activity to Illinois’ law enforcement agencies. They must also forfeit their campaign funds to the state. The legislation is modeled on an existing law that requires drug dealers to forfeit drug sales’ profits. The bill passed the Illinois General Assembly nearly unanimously and takes effect Jan. 1, 2011.
House Bill 5109, sponsored by Rep. Bill Black (R-Danville) and Sen. Michael Frerichs (D-Champaign), prohibits state funds from being used to finance a portrait of a Governor who was impeached and removed from office. The legislation still allows the gubernatorial portrait to be hung in the Capitol, but it may not be funded by taxpayers. The new law takes effect Jan. 1, 2011.
Since taking office, Governor Quinn has made ethics reform a top priority. In his first official act, Governor Quinn signed an executive order establishing the Illinois Reform Commission. Later that year he signed ground-breaking campaign finance reform legislation into law that imposed Illinois’ first-ever contribution limits on candidates, political parties and political action committees.
Governor Quinn also led passage of legislation last year to allow Illinois residents to vote on a constitutional amendment for the power to remove a governor from office. If the measure is approved by voters this year, the Illinois Constitution would be amended to include the recall process.
In April 2009, Governor Pat Quinn launched Appointments.Illinois.gov, a Web site that allows Illinois citizens to access information about members and vacancies in the state’s 300 boards and commissions. The Web site was created under an executive order issued to ensure appointments to Illinois boards and commissions are open, fair and transparent.
After it was revealed that a “clout list” existed and that many on that list were granted favorable treatment and admission to the University of Illinois, Governor Quinn issued an executive order in June 2009 forming the independent Admissions Review Commission. Headed by former federal judge Abner Mikva, the Commission investigated the “clout list” claims and ultimately recommended that trustees of the University of Illinois’ Board of Trustees voluntarily resign. Governor Quinn subsequently made seven appointments to the board, including Christopher G. Kennedy, who was later elected chair of the board.
Governor Quinn unveiled Accountability.Illinois.gov (Aug. 2009) and Sunshine.Illinois.gov (March 2010) to provide the public with access to state government spending information and employee pay data through a single, searchable online portal. Governor Quinn also signed legislation in Aug. 2009 to strengthen the Illinois Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by strengthening fines for noncompliance, allowing fewer exemptions and shortening the time for a government to respond to a request.