Thursday, April 20, 2006

Leading Away from Ryan

Many newspapers, including here and here, and many legislators, here, here, and here, (but not here) have said that the Ryan verdict shows the need for further reform legislation. As we said at the time that it passed, the 2003 Ethics Act was a big step forward, but true reform was a long-term, incremental project. There are no silver bullets. But who will show the way?

Eric Zorn’s column today puts this question front and center. Where is the leadership that will make reform happen? Where is the Governor? One year ago last March, he pledged to rock the system in Springfield. Two months later, he put his proposals in writing as SB 1822, which has since been stuck in Rules, unable even to get a public hearing. When the Bloomington Pantagraph noticed a few weeks ago that his website didn’t list ethics reform among his priorities, spokesperson Doug Scofield backed away, saying "There's a lot of different interests in Springfield, and there's not a huge appetite from any corner for real campaign finance reform. We certainly saw that when the bill was introduced last session." Now, asked if the Governor supports a pay-to-play campaign finance package, another of the governor’s spokespeople, Rebecca Rausch, flips around to the other side, telling Zorn, that the proposal doesn’t go far enough and "would actually kill any chance of comprehensive reform."

Perhaps that’s also why the Governor never adopted rules restricting contractors from giving to his campaign, as Comptroller Dan Hynes and Chicago Mayor Richard Daley have done; is he concerned that might reduce the impetus for “real” reform?

The legislature is in session, but reform bills aren't moving. The Governor is so busy governing he says he hasn’t got time to file his taxes. The people of Illinois demand leadership on reform. What will the Governor do to make reform a reality during the Spring session?

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