Gov. Rod Blagojevich has been called a lot of things, but The Peoria Journal Star may be the first to equate him with the mad scientist Dr. Victor Frankenstein.
In a September 4th editorial headlined “Governor creates monster of an ethics bill,” The Journal Star says the General Assembly should override the governor’s amendatory veto of House Bill 824, which would prohibit everyone with large state contracts from making campaign contributions to the officeholder awarding the contract.
The editorial criticized “Dr. Blagojevich” for proposing major changes that should be debated but not forced on the General Assembly. “When he was done doctoring HB 824, it looked nothing like the original – instead becoming an amalgam of extra parts. Basically, Blagojevich stitched together the Frankenstein of ethics reform. Now he’s unleashed his clumsy creation on Springfield.”
The Illinois Campaign for Political Reform agrees. This monster needs to be killed with an override by the House and Senate. If this creature isn’t killed, it could destroy the negotiated agreement to discourage pay-to-play contracting.
The editorial is timely because the House will be back in session next week to consider leasing the State Lottery as a funding mechanism for a multibillion-dollar construction program, and the amendatory veto of HB 824 also may be called for a vote. Before the General Assembly agrees to any new capital plan, it should make certain that the pay-to-play safeguards of HB 824 are in statute.
The Peoria Journal Star is one of many newspapers calling for an override of the veto of HB 824.
Although the others didn’t compare Gov. Blagojevich to Dr. Frankenstein, most were just as blunt in describing his veto and his executive order to extend the contribution ban to the legislative branch, state political parties and any officeholder, regardless of what office awarded the contract,
Here’s a sampling.
The Rockford Register-Star: “Legislators have vowed to override the Blagojevich veto. They should do so, and quickly. No more shams from the Flimflam Man!”
The Southern Illinoisan: “The governor blew it. He could have affixed his signature and shared in the credit for a change for the better in Illinois.”
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “With a 60 percent vote in both houses, the General Assembly can override an amendatory veto and pass the original bill. Legislators should do so promptly. The people of Illinois are tired of crooked government.”
The State Journal-Register: “In the first half of 2008 alone, Blagojevich received $238,500 in campaign contributions from businesses or employees of businesses that have contracts worth more than $50,000 with agencies under the governor’s control, according to the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform.
So forgive us if we take the governor’s sudden reform movement — and his impulse to author radically new ethics and fundraising legislation — with a grain of salt the size of Lincoln’s Tomb. We hope the legislature does the same this fall and restores the ethics and campaign finance bills to their original form.”
The Decatur Herald & Review: “. . . the governor's action shows he's really not interested in ethics reform.”
The Moline Dispatch and The Rock Island Argus: “The amendatory veto message he signed last week dripped with hypocrisy. This is, after all, the governor who spent months enriching his campaign chest with money from state contractors. Now he wants to ban such contributions?”
The Chicago Sun-Times: “Being governor, it turns out, doesn't give anyone the right to rule by fiat. That's especially true when you risk constitutional challenges that can force the state back to square one.”
The Chicago Tribune: “It's not a perfect bill, but it's a solid bill that this page has repeatedly urged the governor to sign. Just as we now urge legislators to override his veto of it. As is, the people of Illinois stand confronted with more of the Blagojevichian antics that have made him so untrustworthy. Rather than push legislators to write his "improvements" into law, he'd rather grandstand for the cameras, make noise about reform, and hope that—with public attention focused on the Democratic National Convention in Denver—nobody is paying much attention to the culture of political sleaze back home in Illinois.”