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*** UPDATED x1 - Quinn reverses course *** Reform and renewal

Monday, May 19, 2014

*** UPDATE *** The governor blinks

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.

[ *** End Of Update *** ]

* 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.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

29 Comments
  1. - VanillaMan - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 12:44 pm:

    This is Illinois.
    We don’t want no reform or renewal.


  2. - VanillaMan - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 12:47 pm:

    “The governor will treat this legislation just like any other,”

    Right. That is why these companies pay this old Quinnster a pile of dollars, just to be treated as if they hired anyone as their lobbyist.

    Nothing to see here people, just typical Illinois political crapsmanship!


  3. - DuPage Rep - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 12:55 pm:

    There is no news here, let’s go back to talking about Walter Payton Prep and confederate flags.


  4. - BigDoggie - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 12:56 pm:

    But the real question is, has Jack Lavin ever shook hands with anyone wearing a confederate flag patch!?


  5. - phocion - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 1:01 pm:

    Kind of a non-story. Don’t former government officials get into this business all the time? (see, e.g. Marlow Colvin).


  6. - too obvious - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 1:02 pm:

    Definitely “smallish.”

    Truly trivial compared to Rauner’s GTCR baggage.


  7. - Arizona Bob - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 1:09 pm:

    Of course, if Quinn were serious about reform, he’d come out with a statement saying,” I strongly believe that we need to be held to a higher ethical standard in the office of the Governor. Towards this end, I will not provide Mr Lavin, or his lobbying firm, access to me nor my staff. I also will not promote the clients of his firm, or legislation they support, to members of the general assembly. This is the first step towards making my tenure here the most ethical in Illinois history.”

    Of course, doing this would severely limit Quinn’s post gubernatorial income opportunities, so this will happen when prairie chickens fly (under their own power!)


  8. - lake county democrat - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 1:10 pm:

    Would this be legal under the reform commission proposal which Quinn gutted like a fish?


  9. - Anonymous - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 1:11 pm:

    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.

    And as we know. Lobbyists don’t influence politicians. (Snark)


  10. - DuPage Rep - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 1:12 pm:

    ==Truly trivial compared to Rauner’s GTCR baggage==

    Nice spin. Back to saying Bruce kills old ladies I see. Don’t forget to mention his divorce records and his daughter’s high school.


  11. - Chicago Cynic - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 1:26 pm:

    There are three key questions out of this:

    1) Did Jack violate the revolving door statute with his moves? Sure looks that way.

    2) Did he run it through the traps at the AG’s office (this is their domain)? Doesn’t look like he did. And…

    3) Will this lead to a new effort to create a revolving door law for not just staff but lawmakers?

    From what I’ve seen here, the current statute hurts smaller fish while leaving the big fish free to practice their corruption…just like with our lame lobbyist laws.


  12. - Sir Reel - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 1:39 pm:

    Why didn’t Quinn say this fix was needed last month or last year? Because it wasn’t a campaign problem then. Governor Squeaky Clean strikes again.


  13. - A guy... - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 1:52 pm:

    Throw this one on the pile that keeps growing.


  14. - 47th Ward - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 1:53 pm:

    Will they call it “Jack’s Law” if it passes?

    Rauner might want to rethink this. Half of his campaign staff is probably hoping this fails.


  15. - PoolGuy - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 1:54 pm:

    thought when you leave state job to do something like this, you have to run it by OEIG to get their blessing. so guess Lavin did not do that, but given the Maram problem think people would have been aware this could be a potential blowback?


  16. - Bogart - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 2:02 pm:

    Quinn does not need legislation to fix this. If he were serious or even slightly competent, he would have already issued an executive order barring any of his staff/agencies from talking to a former “chief of staff ..etc. for a period of at least one-year.” That would effectively close the loop hole. And he could also pursue legislation in the normal course. You’re an Executive, Quinn - start acting like one.


  17. - VanillaMan - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 2:03 pm:

    What do you think Pat asked Jack when he saw him lobbying right after he left in September? Do you think Pat even gave it a moment of pause?

    You know, Pat the “reformer”? Do you think Pat thought that perhaps it was a bit unsavory for his old pal to end up working their old friendship into a working gig right off the bat like that? Or, do you think Pat just winked and smiled at his old friend?


  18. - Chicago Cynic - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 2:04 pm:

    And what about Andy Ross - he left government and immediately went to work for a state contractor or would be state contractor.


  19. - VanillaMan - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 2:07 pm:

    Gee Pat, that “reform” was long in coming wasn’t it? Got any other ideas up your sleeve that maybe a political campaign might jiggle loose out of Old Betsy?

    How about not letting a Lt. Governor who served with an impeached governor, not run for a full term after finishing out their impeached running mate’s term in office?

    You know, just to keep things all reformy and fun-tastic?


  20. - Arthur Andersen - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 2:13 pm:

    Just wondering-could PQ do this by Executive Order?

    PS: Rich, back in the day, you numbered the “Reform & Renewal” Posts by Chapter to avoid confusion. May have to do that again?


  21. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 2:13 pm:

    @Cynic -

    Correction, I believe the revolving door goes through the Executive Inspector General, not the AG.

    The purpose of the Revolving Door Law is to prevent government executives from using their authority to benefit some entity in expectation of some future gain from that entity.

    It is not to prohibit officials from using the knowledge or skills they developed while in government for the benefit of others after they leave.


  22. - 4 percent - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 2:59 pm:

    @ Chicago Cynic… I’m curious about those lame lobbyist laws. Seems to me that its the lawmakers and city council members who are violating the law and getting caught. Please point out the lobbyists who have been convicted recently…


  23. - Working night and day... - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 4:53 pm:

    It’s rumored that the Governor’s Office requests that the OEIG give a pass on revolving door determinations to favored team players. How else would the recently former general counsel (and ethics officer) for the Illinois Commerce Commission be allowed to start representing Ameren before the Commission within weeks ofleaving the Commission?

    She and people like Jack get a waiver and all is legal…not ethical, but legal.


  24. - Chicago Cynic - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 5:02 pm:

    4 percent, not all corrupt conduct is illegal. In fact, if you write the laws, you can ensure your conduct remains just this/side of legal. I’m talking about the broader corruption of money in the system. So for example, lobbyists should be required to disclose when they sponsor fundraisers, bundle contributions or even make contributions. That information should be kept in a unified database and disclosure should be required when lobbyists file their bi-weekly disclosures.


  25. - wordslinger - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 5:04 pm:

    I don’t really see the point right now in playing whack-a-mole with campaign finance or lobbyist laws. The Supremes have told us it’s all free speech.

    The way that crew in the marble building in Washington is rolling, you’ll be lucky to hold onto any public disclosure at all.


  26. - Chicago Cynic - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 5:06 pm:

    YDD, you are correct that OEIG polices this but I recall the AG has a role to play as well. I recall when Brian McPartlin was denied clearance under the revolving door statute to take a job, that clearance was denied by the AG, not by the OEIG.


  27. - Mokenavince - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 6:37 pm:

    Splish splash he was taking a bath, them he changed his mind. Quinn should think of the future
    he may need to become a lobbyist and fast.


  28. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 7:56 pm:

    @Night and day -

    What? General Counsel??

    Oy.


  29. - Chicago Cynic - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 8:41 pm:

    Word, I am not proposing anything the Supremes have said is remotely problematic. I’m simply talking about disclosure which everyone agrees is constitutional.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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