*** UPDATE *** The governor blinks…
[ *** End Of Update *** ]
Moving to head off a developing campaign issue, Gov. Pat Quinn today called for amending the state’s ethics law to impose a blanket one-year ban on top ex-aides lobbying their former colleagues.
After a series of recent media reports about activities by his ex-chief of staff, Jack Lavin, who left state payroll last September, Mr. Quinn’s office released a statement saying that he will push for legislation to forbid such work for one year after a senior official leaves office.
“The governor favors amending the law to say that any chief of staff, deputy chief of staff or deputy governor – whether they’re participated in a decision or not – should not be permitted to lobby any official in state government for one year,” Mr. Quinn’s spokeswoman said. “We’re pursuing legislation.”
Mr. Quinn’s office previously said that the lobbying work by Mr. Lavin had been reviewed by attorneys and met the requirements of law. But that stance today came under fire from a top ethics watchdog group and from the campaign of Mr. Quinn’s election rival, GOP nominee Bruce Rauner.
* Longtime readers know that “Reform and renewal” was a deliberately sarcastic headline I used countless times during the Rod Blagojevich years because it was one of his campaign slogans.
So, let’s get back to it…
A former top aide to Gov. Pat Quinn is now working as a lobbyist for a group representing casino owners and a company hoping to get into the medical marijuana business, raising eyebrows among some who want to strengthen the state’s so-called revolving door ban.
Jack Lavin, who left his job as Quinn’s chief of staff last September, started his own lobbying business in February and has landed several contracts in recent weeks, Lee Enterprises reported Sunday.
Records show Lavin represents the Illinois Casino Gaming Association, which has been in the middle of talks regarding an expansion of gambling in Illinois. He’s also signed on with Effingham-based Healthcentral LLC, a company formed to compete for a license to grow marijuana after lawmakers approved a four-year medical marijuana pilot program.
* This is all legal…
Although Illinois has a revolving door ban designed to put roadblocks in front of agency directors and other top state officials seeking to join companies that have contracts with state government, Lavin has apparently moved into his new role without a hitch.
Under the law, certain state employees or former state workers cannot accept employment or compensation from a non-state employer if the worker, in the past year, made regulatory or licensing decisions or awarded contracts affecting the non-state employer.
As chief of staff from December 2010 to October 2013, Lavin was in the midst of some of the biggest decisions facing Quinn, ranging from expanding gambling to the legalizing medical marijuana.
* Greg Hinz…
And should a governor who frequently brags about how he’s cleaned up state government after the Rod Blagojevich years just watch as his former top aide exploits a huge loophole to swing the revolving door in his favor? […]
Rauner campaign manager Mike Schrimpf was even more pointed.
“First Pat Quinn’s running mate is hired by Blagojevich’s former budget director, then we learn about dozens of political hires in Quinn’s administration,” he said, referring to Paul Vallas and a hiring scandal in the Illinois Department of Transportation. “How Pat Quinn’s former chief of staff is trying to cash in as a lobbyist. There’s seemingly no end to the ethical cloud hovering over Pat Quinn.”
* Lavin was also hired by a ride-sharing firm…
In the latest move, Uber Technologies Inc. has brought aboard Jack Lavin, who until September was chief of staff to Gov. Pat Quinn. Another addition: lobbyist Al Ronan, whom I hadn’t seen on previous lists. They join, among others, former state Sen. Jim DeLeo, D-Chicago, and Mike Kasper, who has close ties to both Mayor Rahm Emanuel and House Speaker Michael Madigan.
Uber, Lyft and other ride-sharing firms could use the help because, so far, they’re losing in Springfield. […]
Mr. Quinn’s spokeswoman, Brooke Anderson, said hiring Mr. Lavin won’t have any impact on his ex-boss. “The governor will treat this legislation just like any other,” she insisted.
* Again, this is all legal and Quinn can’t just tell Lavin that he can’t make money because Lavin doesn’t work for him any longer.
But it’s probably also fair political game and another smallish strike against the governor.