Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Campaign Finance Reform -- Really

Not one, not two, but three different Chicago newspapers ran opinion pieces recently in favor of campaign finance reform, joining a growing chorus in support of fixing our broken political system.

Crain's took a look at "the corruption that has come to define Illinois" and concluded, "Illinois can reclaim its dignity by curbing the flow of campaign cash that pollutes our politics and government."

The Sun-Times wrote, "with our state in post-impeachment crisis, now is the time for Springfield lawmakers to enact meaningful campaign contribution limits." The Sun-Times also observed, "In theory, public disclosure … discourages dirty dealings. In practice, we've seen how well that has worked."

And in the Tribune, former First Chicago NBD CEO Richard Thomas noted, "illegal practices that are discouraged abroad are tolerated here in Illinois." And he argued "placing limits on campaign contributions would be a good place to start."

Support for campaign finance reform is growing outside of the Capitol. Former Executive Ethics Commission Chairman Scott Turow recently told the legislative Joint Committee on Government Reform, in a hearing on transparency, that he believes that campaign finance reform is "indispensable," even asserting, "our state will continue to be perceived as an ethical swamp, both in Illinois and outside of it, unless we prohibit unlimited campaign donations." A broad coalition of business, civic, and non-profit groups, including ICPR, recently formed, calling itself CHANGE Illinois.

To date, 20 House members have signed on as sponsors of HB 24, a measure to reform campaign finance. Similar legislation in the Senate, SB 1768, has a smaller but growing list of sponsors.

Legislators need to hear your voices. Contact your House and Senate members and tell them what you think of our current political crisis. Now is the time for people to speak up.

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