Gov. Ryan Proposes Major Ethics Reform: End Soliciting of Employees, Strengthen Gift Ban, Limit Influence on Contracting -- Civic Federation, Senator Simon Endorse Ethics Reform Package
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 8, 2001
SPRINGFIELD -- Gov. George H. Ryan has proposed a sweeping ethics reform package that strengthens the gift ban act; bans all state constitutional officers from soliciting campaign contributions from their employees; curtails fundraising by state regulators; and limits the influence of former state officials in the awarding of state contracts.
"These ethics reforms are essential for the people of Illinois to have confidence in their state government," Gov. Ryan said.
Gov. Ryan's proposal is led by a measure that codifies his executive order banning nearly 70,000 employees from contributing to his political campaign fund or from soliciting others for contributions. This new legislative proposal also expands the ban to all executive branch constitutional officers and candidates for these offices. Gov. Ryan also proposes codifying Gov. James R. Thompson's 1977 executive order that prohibits the solicitation of political contributions from any entity regulated by a state department, agency, board or commission on which an individual serves.
The proposal also expands the so-called "revolving door" prohibition. State officers or employees would not be able to take some jobs with a private sector
employer for 2 years after leaving state government if they negotiated or administered
state contracts with that employer prior to leaving state service. The ban would include lobbying the procurement process or proposing bids or contracts on behalf of the employee or the firm, partnership, association or corporation.
Other key proposals in the ethics package include:
Gift Ban Act -- Developed with the support of House Republicans and Illinois Common Cause, this proposal strengthens the state's Gift Ban Act to address constitutional concerns raised by several Illinois courts. The law is now on appeal before the Illinois Supreme Court. The measure would remove judges, school districts and local governments from the act and defines and clarifies the definition of gifts. The bill proposes banning employees from accepting gifts of more than $50.
Ethics Commission -- This proposal, also developed in cooperation with the House Republicans and Illinois Common Cause, creates one, eight-member ethics board that would be able to provide rulings and advisory opinions on ethics questions regarding state officials or employees. The board would also investigate and rule on certified written complaints about state and legislative office holders and employees. This new ethics board will be subject to the Freedom of Information and Open Meetings acts.
Prohibited Offers of Promises -- Besides limiting campaign fundraising, Gov. Ryan's proposal includes a ban on promises of jobs, promotions, preferential treatment or salary raises by executive branch officers, employees or candidates in exchange for campaign contributions.
House Republican Leader Lee A. Daniels will be one of the chief sponsors of the legislation, HB 1330. Daniels lauded the Governor for his ethics proposal.
"Gov. Ryan's proposals will prove to be landmark ethics initiatives for Illinois," Daniels said. "Passing these clear-cut regulations will provide legislators with no-nonsense guidelines that will remove the confusion in existing laws."
Gov. Ryan's ethics package is endorsed by former U. S. Sen. Paul Simon, now a public policy professor at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, as well as the influential Civic Federation of Chicago.
"These reforms are a significant step forward to bringing campaign finance reform to Illinois," Sen. Simon said. "I commend Gov. Ryan's leadership and vision."
"These ethics reforms are a bold step and will strengthen the integrity of state government," said John Currie, President of the Civic Federation. "We commend Gov. Ryan for making this significant move to bring campaign finance and government reform to Illinois. The Civic Federation encourages other units of local government to review these proposed reforms and implement additional standards within their own structures."
Illinois Common Cause, the government watchdog, praised the effort to reenact the Gift Ban Act.
"The new language in the Gift Ban Act is clear and concise and provides the bright lines that the original act lacked," said David Starrett, spokesman for Illinois Common Cause. "These measures deserve bipartisan support from both legislative chambers to assure rapid passage."
Governor Ryan called upon the General Assembly to enact his proposals.
"These reforms are important to the people of Illinois," Gov. Ryan said. "We need to strengthen our campaign fundraising laws and ensure there are no questions in the public's mind about the integrity of the operations of state government."