Monday, February 27, 2006

Disclosure Updates

ICPR and the Sunshine Project have finished analyzing reports for all statewide and legislative candidates and have posted that data to the Sunshine Database on ICPR's website. For information on top donors for all those candidates through Calendar Year 2005, visit the site. We hope to get that posted for the 175 or so judicial candidates soon; in the meantime, learn more about judicial candidates at our other website, illinoisvotersguide.org

We're also in the A1 period for the March primary; digging through the reports we found these bits:

Giannoulias News: The candidate for the Dem nomination reported getting $100K from an "Anna Giannoulias". His report suggests that he doesn't know who she is, either by occupation or employer. Apparently, one of the nice things about running for office is that you might be reunited with long lost relatives; rich ones at that. He also formed a second political committee, with the same officers, called Alexi for Illinois (State ID 9138).

Eye on Eychaner: Fred Eychaner is giving again, handing out at least $140K so far this calendar year. Forest Claypool is the big recipient at $100K, while DPI and Cook County Clerk David Orr both report $20K.

Family Values: The Family Taxpayer Network still hasn't paid their fines, but that hasn't stopped them from giving money away. They show $10K each to two contested House candidates.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

The Unguarded Henhouse

The thing with lobbyist regulation is, it’s not that the fox is guarding the henhouse, it’s that nobody is guarding the henhouse. Lobbyist reform is still percolating at the federal level, but here in Illinois, it’s just beginning to boil. First there were reports that gubernatorial confidante John Wyma was helping a ton of clients snag state funds. Then came word that Doug Scofield was lobbying for private interests while serving as the governor’s spokesperson. Now we learn that former Illinois EPA Director Renee Cipriano has gone to work for Ameren, a downstate utility company whose plants were regulated by the Illinois EPA.

The 2003 Ethics Act included specific language to bar this kind of relationship. The provision (Section 5-45 of the Act) initially covered only state employees who negotiated contracts with private vendors. Then Phil Parenti announced he was quitting as head of the Gaming Commission to go work for Harrah’s. Section 5-45 was still in negotiations then, and all agreed to add paragraph B in order to prohibit agency heads and others with regulatory authority from going over to the other side quite so quickly.

The provision covers any “former officer of the executive branch or State employee of the executive branch with regulatory or licensing authority” and it prohibits them to “knowingly accept employment or receive compensation of fees for services from a person or entity” if they regulated that entity. The language is plain and the intent was to deal with a situation like Parenti’s. And Cipriano’s, too.

If the revolving door provision has any meaning, then Renee Cipriano ought to be explaining her actions to the Ethics Commission. Otherwise, the framers of that provision have some explaining of their own to do.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

D2 Updating

We’re reviewing the D2s filed last week, and hope to get our synthesis posted to the Sunshine Database by the middle of the month. We’ve noticed a few things that we think are worth remarking upon, which we offer here to see if you agree:

* Former Sen. Kay Wojcik closed out here PAC on October 30, 2005, and paid herself $104,259.68 as “personal use”. That amount is her exact balance on June 30, 1998, when the personal use ban took effect; that’s how much she could claim under the grandfather clause that was the price of getting the ban in place. Wojcik is the first candidate to claim the full amount she could take, down to the penny, all as a lump sum. Wouldn’t want to waste that 68 cents, would we?

* Friends of Blagojevich reported spending $23,681.00 with “Cardmember Service” for “credit card payment – see memo.” Credit card payments, as with all pass-through payments, are not supposed to be listed on the D2; PACs are supposed to list each item on the bill separately if they hit the itemization threshold, or lump them with the non-itemized total if they are not. The committee has been hit before on this point, which may explain why the D2 refers to the “memo.” But they apparently forgot to file the memo with the D2. Look for an amended filing in the near future.

More later, as the situation warrants…

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Catching Up

This blog has been pretty quiet since before the holidays. Apologies to anyone who expected play by play on D2 day; we’ve been swamped with a few projects. We plan to roll these out in the next few days, but here's some of what we've been up to:

Fifteen people, including Comptroller Hynes, Senators Dillard, Raoul, DelValle, Schoenberg, and Garrett; Representatives Black, Coulson, and Fritchey; and leaders from ICPR, the BGA, Protestants for the Common Good, Citizen Action, PIRG, and the League of Women Voters gathered around the podium last Wednesday to announce a broad ethics and campaign finance package that addresses campaign contributions by state contractors, litigants giving to Supreme Court candidates, and shortcomings in Illinois' lobbyist regulation system.

We've posted replies to our candidate questionnaires from six of the seven candidates for governor. Responses from candidates for other offices will go up on our site soon.

In December, we asked all candidates for statewide executive, legislative, or judicical office to sign the Code of Fair Campaign Practices. The Code was created by the Illinois General Assembly and is administered by the State Board of Elections. It's a voluntary promise to run the kind of campaign you can tell your mother about. But many candidates ignore the Code. We'll tell you who has signed on.

This blog may continue to be lite for the next few weeks, though we have a few more things in the hopper to announce soon. We hope to pick up the pace when A1s start coming in on Monday, February 20.