Thursday, April 09, 2009

PUBLIC RALLY CALLS FOR AN END TO CORRUPTION IN ILLINOIS POLITICS

Voters, Public join Civic, Business, Religious & Non-Profit Groups in Chicago to CHANGE Illinois!

Mere steps from indicted former Governor Rod Blagojevich’s office, hundreds of people gathered in downtown Chicago today with a simple message: “We’ve had enough!” Voters joined with civic and business leaders, religious and non-profit groups for a public CHANGE Illinois! rally calling for an end to corruption in Illinois politics.

“Corruption in Illinois has turned us from the land of Lincoln to a national laughingstock,” said Rev. Patricia Watkins, Executive Director of Target Area Development Corp. “We need to take special interest money out of Illinois politics – the people deserve to get their voices back.”

The rally, organized by CHANGE Illinois!, focused on the need to clean up Illinois politics now. Rally speakers drove home the need for political reform and urged the General Assembly to take action, including: Rev. Patricia Watkins, Executive Director of TARGET Area Development Corp.; Rami Nashashibi, Inner City Muslim Action Network, Executive Director; Merri Dee, AARP Illinois State President; Peter Bensinger, Chicago business leader and former Administrator of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency; Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, Enlace Chicago, Executive Director; and Rev. Philip Blackwell, Senior Minister of First United Methodist Church at the Chicago Temple.

“On behalf of AARP’s nearly 2 million in Illinois, I can say we’re tired of politics as usual standing in the way of progress as it should be,” said Merri Dee, State President for AARP. “The people of Illinois need to stand up and demand that things change.”

CHANGE Illinois! has launched a statewide campaign to end the culture of corruption in Illinois politics. The coalition’s first priority is take large donations out of Illinois campaign through enacting strict campaign contribution limits. The coalition has been taking the message to communities across the state, setting up the CHANGE Illinois! Hotline (1-800-719-3020) to connect voters to their state lawmakers to urge them to help put an end to pay-to-play politics. Illinois is one of only four states with no limits on political campaign contributions.

“Unless people throughout Illinois contact their legislators and demand change, we’re going to see even more waste and corruption in our government,” Peter Bensinger, Co-Chair of CHANGE Illinois!, said. “If we can’t change the way government does business in Illinois, corporate leaders are going to think twice about doing business here.”

Since 1970, over 1000 Illinois public officials have been convicted of corruption, including 19 judges (serving half the state’s population), 30 Chicago Alderman, two Governors with a third now indicted and a former State Attorney General --- one conviction every other week.

For more information about the CHANGE Illinois! The Coalition for Honest and New Government Ethics: www.ChangeIL.org

Friday, April 03, 2009

Now only 4 states have unregulated campaign finance systems

New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson yesterday signed into law a bill creating campaign contribution limits. They get reform. Now there are 46 states that regulate campaign contributions, and just 4 that are wide open.

And what did Illinois get yesterday? More proof that we need reform.

If you're fed up with business as usual, if the indictment of Rod Blagojevich reads like a rehash of old news, if you're mad as hell and not going to take it anymore, then here's what you can do right now to make reform happen:

* Call 1-800-719-3020. This hotline, offered by CHANGE Illinois, will patch you through to your legislator's office, where you can voice your demand for reform of Illinois' political culture.

* Make plans to attend the rally at the James R. Thompson Center this Thursday, April 9 at 10 am.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

ICPR AND SUNSHINE PROJECT REACT TO BLAGOJEVICH INDICTMENT

Cynthia Canary, Director of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform, issued the following statement:

“Rod Blagojevich was elected and then reelected governor based on the promise that he would reform and renew state government, but his government was more like an overloaded, malfunctioning sewage system. Now, it’s up to the elected leaders in Springfield to respond to the demands of the citizens of Illinois and clean up this mess. They should start by addressing the free flow of big campaign contributions from special interests. Limited campaign contributions and strong oversight of the campaign finance system would give the people of Illinois reason to believe their elected leaders are serious about changing the culture of corruption.”


Kent Redfield, Director of the Sunshine Project at the University of Illinois, issued the following statement:

“The political system in Illinois is broken and has been for decades. Removing Rod Blagojevich from office by impeachment and putting him on trial in a federal courtroom may teach him a lesson, but it will not reform Illinois. Major changes are required in the way Illinois polices lobbying and openness of government. But the first and most important change needed is to enact reasonable limits on the size of campaign contributions and strong enforcement of campaign finance laws.”

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Calls for reform, getting louder

The calls for campaign finance reform in Illinois are getting louder.

The Illinois Reform Commission, a special panel assembled by Gov. Pat Quinn to propose reform legislation, recommended today that the state enact campaign contribution limits and a host of other campaign finance, accountability and transparency measures.

The 15-member Commission called on legislative leaders to establish a set of campaign contribution limits similar to the limits that have been in place on the federal level for decades. Under the proposal, individuals would be restricted to giving $2,400 to any candidate, political party or political action committee. State political parties, corporations, unions and political action committees would be restricted by different sets of limits.

The panel also recommended:
- Giving the State Board of Elections greater enforcement powers,

- “Real Time” campaign finance reporting, so that every large campaign donation is made public year round,

- Creating new disclosure requirements independent expenditures,

- Banning lobbyists from donating to campaigns,

- Establishing a public financing pilot program for judicial elections/campaigns,

- Updating the state’s Freedom of Information Act to increase transparency and ensure the public has access to governmental records.


The Commission said it released the preliminary recommendations Tuesday to allow legislators and the public ample time to consider them.

To view all of the Commission’s interim recommendations, please visit http://reformillinoisnow.org/index.html

And when you're ready to make your own call, the number is 800-719-3020.