The Illinois Campaign for Political Reform urges legislative leaders to insist Gov. Blagojevich accept limitations on pay-to-play contracting as part of any new multibillion-dollar capital plan.
Gov. Blagojevich has called legislative leaders to a meeting Thursday to negotiate a capital construction program, reportedly in the range of $20 billion to $34 billion.
“House Bill 824, now sitting on the governor’s desk, would ban businesses with state contracts from making campaign contributions to the officeholder awarding the contract,” said Cynthia Canary, Director of ICPR. “The governor should sign HB 824 and give the public some confidence the billions of dollars in news spending would be done fairly and would not be directed at the wallets of the businesses contributing to his campaign fund.”
In the first 30 days after the General Assembly passed HB 824, the governor’s campaign committee actively solicited contributions from businesses with state contracts and collected at least $250,000 from state contractors in that short period of time, according to a Chicago Tribune investigation.
“The governor claims he wants billions in new infrastructure spending to create jobs and to guard against a bridge collapse as happened in Minneapolis last year,” Canary said. “But after years of headlines about contracts that look more like pay-to-play than legitimate state business, taxpayers have to wonder whether his top concern is bridge safety or building up his campaign treasury.
“If he would sign the bill to discourage pay-to-play and stop soliciting money from people doing business with the state, he would give the public reason to believe those new construction dollars would be spent fairly,” she said. “Legislative leaders should insist HB 824 is signed into law before giving the governor the ability to award billions in new spending for bridges, roads, and other projects.”