Tag Archives: conflict of interest

BGA Backs New State Disclosure Effort

Improved anti-corruption filing will help keep lawmakers in check

Emily_Miller_BGA_Bio copy

By Emily Miller  
Emily is the BGA’s Policy and Government Affairs Coordinator. Contact her at emiller@bettergov.org. Follow her on Twitter @EJMill.

Having information about potential conflicts of interest held by public officials is vital to ensuring our government is accountable to taxpayers—not to private or personal interests.

But in Illinois, good government groups commonly refer to the current economic disclosure form lawmakers and other government officials are required to file as ”a waste of paper.”

Even though the Illinois Governmental Ethics Act has required elected officials and high-ranking government employees to file economic disclosure forms for over 40 years, the form is so vague and ineffective that 85% of those returning the form in Cook County filled in every question with the phrase “Not Applicable.”

That’s why the Better Government Association is backing a bill that will require Illinois lawmakers and other high-ranking state and county officials to file a revamped economic disclosure form designed to ferret out conflicts of interest.

SB3941, introduced by Senator Dan Kotowski (D-33) with support from Lieutenant Governor Sheila Simon, requires officials to report potential conflicts of interest by asking specific questions about assets, gifts, and debts. In addition, for the first time, officials will have to report outside sources of income and lobbyists who are family members or with whom they have close economic ties.

The legislation also lays the groundwork for the state to move toward an online filing system that will further improve transparency of potential conflicts of interest held by government officials.

Specifically, the legislation will require officials to report:

  • Assets valued at more than $10,000
  • Additional sources of income in excess of $2,500
  • Debts over $5,000 incurred by or owed to the filer, other than those owed to a financial institution.
  • Lobbyists with whom the filer has an economic relationship
  • Family members of the filer, including a spouse, child, step-child, parent, step-parent or sibling, who are lobbyists registered with any unit of government in Illinois
  • Gifts with a value of $500 or more

The BGA will be working hard alongside reform-minded lawmakers to pass SB3941 in January.

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Filed under Legislative Update, Transparency

Statewide update—March 8, 2011

Bloomington PantagraphState’s archaic financial tracking system under review, “Less than two weeks after Auditor General William Holland found the state is relying on hundreds of different financial reporting systems to track spending, the chairwoman of a Senate committee said lawmakers must investigate.”

  • Chicago Sun-TimesJohn Cullerton: Consider taxing under-65 pensions, “The top Senate Democrat Monday suggested taxing retirement income for high-earning senior citizens for the first time to help lower income taxes that were raised in January.”
  • Daily HeraldGambling plan includes slots, no casinos, “The push to allow slot machines at Arlington Park and other Illinois race tracks is on once again, but an initial plan leaves any new casinos out of the equation.”
  • SouthtownStarQuinn signs Chinatown redistricting legislation, “Gov. Pat Quinn signed into law Monday a bill that protects minority groups from being split — and thus losing political influence — during legislative redistricting.”

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Statewide update—Feb. 28, 2011

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Northwest HeraldEditorial: Reject efforts at secrecy, “[A]ttempts to curtail transparency laws should be considered an assault on democracy. Unfortunately, the assault continues in Springfield, where no fewer than seven bills have been filed this year that seek to scale back the state’s Freedom of Information Act.”

  • Daily Herald (Glen Ellyn)Ethics ordinance slated for final vote, “An ethics ordinance and policy meant to sensitize elected officials and staff to potential dishonorable activity will go up for a final vote Monday at the Glen Ellyn Village Board meeting.”
  • Chicago TribuneHendon abruptly quite state Senate, “The surprise announcement by the veteran lawmaker comes months after revelations that a federal grand jury issued subpoenas for records on dozens of state grants, some of which he sponsored.”

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