Wednesday, June 14, 2006

State of Economic Interest

Federal office holders have just released their statements of economic interest, and the reports give the public a good view of their elected official’s finances. These reports show major financial interests, and also give the value of the interest, so that the public has a better sense of where conflicts of interest might arise, and which matters may present more conflict to the official than others. If an official, for instance, derives a few thousand dollars a year from a particular company, they might be tempted to give that company special treatment. If they get hundreds of thousands of dollars from that holding, the pressure might be all the more intense.

Illinois officials also file statements of economic interest, but while the name is the same, the content is not. The forms are available for download here, but all they list is the name of the interest, with no specific information on the value of the investment or the income earned from it. In short, Illinois’ statements of economic interest provide very little meaningful information for Illinois voters. Many electeds list simply that the question does not apply to them.

Changing the forms has proven to be a tough hill to climb. While reformers have recently succeeded in getting the forms posted to the Internet, measures to improve the content have stalled in Rules. That reform, to paraphrase Cubs fans, apparently has to wait until next year.

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