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“How could that be legal?”

Wednesday, Oct 30, 2019 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Mark Brown

If this were a normal state with reasonable expectations and standards for the ethical conduct of public officials, the first reaction to the news of state Rep. Luis Arroyo’s arrest might have been: What do you mean the state legislator was acting as a lobbyist on the side? How could that be legal?

* AP on this topic

“This is just a large loophole here,” said Jay Young, executive director of Common Cause Illinois. “It’s the quintessential backroom deal where people with power are making deals to benefit themselves.”

* Back to Mark

On Tuesday, Republican state Rep. Tom Demmer of Dixon introduced legislation that would ban state lawmakers from getting paid to lobby local governments. Demmer would extend the prohibition to spouses and immediate family members.

“There is a clear conflict of interest for sitting lawmakers to perform paid lobbying work while in office,” Demmer said.

Demmer should consider amending his legislation to also bar local officials from being hired by private entities to lobby state government.

Agreed.

Rep. Demmer’s press release is here. His bill is here.

* Related

Illinois Senate President John Cullerton is suggesting a joint House-Senate review of state ethics laws following allegations of bribery against a House member.

The Chicago Democrat said Tuesday the two chambers should consider repeating their combined review of ethics and campaign finance laws following the 2009 impeachment and expulsion of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

House Speaker Michael Madigan said Monday he would appoint a committee to review ethics laws after Rep. Luis Arroyo was accused in a federal complaint of trying to bribe a state senator to support legalization of gambling machines. Arroyo is registered to lobby the Chicago City Council on the same issue.

Arroyo faces expulsion from the House after Madigan started the process Tuesday to investigate Arroyo. He named three House Democrats. House Republican Leader Jim Durkin later tabbed GOP Reps. Margo McDermed of Mokena, Grant Wehrli (WUR’-lee) of Naperville and Dan Ugaste of Geneva.

       

33 Comments
  1. - DuPage Moderate - Wednesday, Oct 30, 19 @ 9:25 am:

    And tax appeals and zoning changes - how can that be legal?


  2. - Bothanspy - Wednesday, Oct 30, 19 @ 9:27 am:

    The fact that there is no rule or law against this already is astounding b


  3. - Give Me A Break - Wednesday, Oct 30, 19 @ 9:30 am:

    GA members love to ban everyone but themselves or their legislative staffers from walking out the door one day and returning to lobby the next day.

    One set of rules for them and one set for everyone else.


  4. - Sue - Wednesday, Oct 30, 19 @ 9:31 am:

    The state prohibits lobbyists from serving on State Boards under the Post Ryan Ethics law. Of course legislators exempted themselves👺


  5. - Tired - Wednesday, Oct 30, 19 @ 9:35 am:

    There should absolutely be a revolving door on legislators similar to that enjoyed by certain senior state government officials.


  6. - Quibbler - Wednesday, Oct 30, 19 @ 9:35 am:

    This is a no-brainer. Guzzardi and other progressives in the legislature should sign on to Demmers’ bill. It would be the rare issue that would make the centrist media swoon *and* actually do some good.


  7. - Steve - Wednesday, Oct 30, 19 @ 9:36 am:

    Term limits on all politicians would also cut down the incentives for rent-seeking businesses to hire politicians as lobbyists.


  8. - Quibbler - Wednesday, Oct 30, 19 @ 9:40 am:

    == Term limits on all politicians would also cut down the incentives for rent-seeking businesses to hire politicians as lobbyists. ==

    Or just massively increase the pool of ex-politician lobbyists who want to cash in after their brief 4- or 6-year terms end.


  9. - Quibbler - Wednesday, Oct 30, 19 @ 9:41 am:

    And, having a constant stream of newbie legislators who lack institutional knowledge only increases the power and leverage of experienced lobbyists.


  10. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Oct 30, 19 @ 9:42 am:

    === Term limits on all politicians would also cut down the incentives for rent-seeking businesses to hire politicians as lobbyists.===

    Term limits gives more power and institutional staying power to… lobbyist.

    Why do *you* care about term limits.

    You. Don’t. Vote.

    To the post,

    The “consulting” gig while elected, lobbying as the crux, should be at the very *least* curtailed to… not being possible at all.

    The millisecond it’s about influencing in governmental process, it’s inherently a conflict of process.

    We’ll see if this plays out with process in mind.


  11. - Just Me 2 - Wednesday, Oct 30, 19 @ 9:42 am:

    Watch the Dems take the language of the Republican’s bill and give it to a targeted Democrat, and then claim superior morality.


  12. - PublicServant - Wednesday, Oct 30, 19 @ 9:44 am:

    Wehrli Is a grandstander. Why him?


  13. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Oct 30, 19 @ 9:49 am:

    === Wehrli Is a grandstander. Why him?===

    … to watch him fall over himself, hyperventilate, and then turn red and yell.

    It’s who he is, it’s on brand, and comical to watch.

    === Watch the Dems take the language of the Republican’s bill and give it to a targeted Democrat, and then claim superior morality.===

    When “both sides” are going to play politics with this, you’re shocked when politics are played?

    If Durkin has 60… he doesn’t.

    But Durkin has Wehrli, lol


  14. - revvedup - Wednesday, Oct 30, 19 @ 9:52 am:

    All the laws in the world can’t cure these politicians who lack any type of moral compass.


  15. - SpfdNewb - Wednesday, Oct 30, 19 @ 10:03 am:

    One way to reduce the revolving door is a ban on all who serve/worked in the legislature from lobbying for a period of time. Two years at minimum but open to longer.

    -Guzzardi and other progressives in the legislature should sign on to Demmers’ bill.-

    I agree.


  16. - don the legend - Wednesday, Oct 30, 19 @ 10:06 am:

    I’m waiting for any of the accused or named folks to channel their inner George Costanza:

    “Was that wrong? Should I not have done that I tell you I gotta plead ignorance on this thing because if anyone had said anything to me at all when I first started here that that sort of thing is frowned upon you know cause I’ve worked in a lot of offices and I tell you people do that all the time.”


  17. - Juvenal - Wednesday, Oct 30, 19 @ 10:12 am:

    Spouses and family members should be banned from contract lobbying, not direct lobbying.

    Direct lobbying is not or atleast has not been a problem to this point. When your wife or son lobbies for The Ounce of Prevention or ComEd, everyone knows it.

    The problem is when an immediate relative is a contract lobbyist, and someone gives your son a call to see if they can help because they are having a hard time getting a bill out of your committee. Or they are having problems with an alderman whose purse strings you control.


  18. - Rod - Wednesday, Oct 30, 19 @ 10:25 am:

    I just read all of the first three posts by Rich and its pretty obvious there is a containment strategy being implemented related to politically connected work done by members of the GA in light of Arroyo’s arrest. Really this issue will impact both Republicans and Democrats. There is really no clear ethical wall between lobbying work done at the level of local and county governments and the GA. I don’t see how this issue will be contained.


  19. - DIstant watcher - Wednesday, Oct 30, 19 @ 10:35 am:

    Demmers bill would require anyone who lobbies any level of government to register with the secretary of state. Is that really the goal?

    Any lobbyist can tell you that the right to petition government is constitutionally protected. Just because we’re outraged at something today doesn’t mean that a knee jerk reaction is the right thing to do.


  20. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Oct 30, 19 @ 10:38 am:

    === Demmers bill would require anyone who lobbies any level of government to register with the secretary of state. Is that really the goal?===

    Easy on Mr. Demmers.

    Prolly came up with this idea the same time he complained about the Governor’s cocktail parties… while at… the Governor’s cocktail party.

    For all we know, his plan was written on a napkin he used at one of the cocktail parties he attended than ranted about later.

    Never know.


  21. - Happy Retiree - Wednesday, Oct 30, 19 @ 10:39 am:

    There should be a lifetime ban all *paid* (money or thing of value) lobbying by public servants and their immediate families. I say *paid* because all citizens have the right to lobby for their personal & business interests, and public service shouldn’t preclude that. However, allowing *paid* lobbyists who have inside connections because of current or past public service, or, connections through family members, provides an unfair advantage for their clients over average citizens who don’t have those connections.
    It’s not a perfect solution, but I think it would be a step in the right direction.


  22. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Oct 30, 19 @ 10:42 am:

    Yes - but the right to get paid to petition government is another matter.


  23. - Name Withheld - Wednesday, Oct 30, 19 @ 10:43 am:

    Anonymous @ 10:42 am is me. Sorry - got click-happy.


  24. - Paddyrollingstone - Wednesday, Oct 30, 19 @ 10:45 am:

    Just get a law license. To paraphrase someone more clever than me, “If you’re a lawyer, you don’t solicit a bribe, you send ‘em a bill.”


  25. - Rasselas - Wednesday, Oct 30, 19 @ 10:55 am:

    I would love to see a ban on lobbying local government. Senator Silverstein was relentless when lobbying the Cook County while a lobbyist. His position as Senator made it very hard to rebuff his pressure.


  26. - g man o man - Wednesday, Oct 30, 19 @ 11:26 am:

    fun with ethics: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/31/nyregion/lobbying-billboard-new-york.html

    “Because she rented the billboards, Kat Sullivan may face more than $40,000 in fines for not registering as a lobbyist.”


  27. - Looking down the Road - Wednesday, Oct 30, 19 @ 11:37 am:

    Corruption is institutional in Illinois. It won’t change regardless of the noise making and arm flapping.


  28. - Closing loopholes - Wednesday, Oct 30, 19 @ 11:51 am:

    The GA needs to actually put limits on itself for real. Like banning the revolving door of staff and members going from state work to lobbying.

    And not to single out someone who hasn’t actually been accused of anything, but look at former Rep. Bradley now lobbying for ComEd/Exelon and the problems they’re having.

    Hate on Rauner all you want, but he did ban exec branch staff from lobbying exec branch for a year through an EO. Former Rep. Franks pushed for the legislative ban for years. Congress has it. Yes, closing the loophole that Arroyo exploited is paramount, but there are other loopholes that need to be addressed to.

    I’d also go a step farther and put the same FOIA rules the exec branch is subjected to on the legislative branch as well. Make them the same across the state. (But that’s a little off topic for this post…)


  29. - NeverPoliticallyCorrect - Wednesday, Oct 30, 19 @ 11:59 am:

    Just to add to the fun, this was an issue for Sen. Durbin also with his wife. Until and unless you ban all relatives from any lobbying activity while a person is in any elected office these issues will continue. It’s just not that hard an issue to fix, the elected official has to complete their annual conflict of Interest statement. If they lie then fine them and/or impeach. But, since lawmakers make the laws and this state is very fond of “taking caring of our own” I don’t expect any serious reform.


  30. - Good Humor - Wednesday, Oct 30, 19 @ 12:32 pm:

    ==ban all relatives from any lobbying activity while a person is in any elected office these issues will continue==

    So, Sen. Oberweis and his family wouldn’t be able to petition any government in relation to an Oberweis family business matter?


  31. - the Patriot - Wednesday, Oct 30, 19 @ 12:52 pm:

    Blah, Blah, Blah….The entire property tax structure in IL is protected by Madigan who this very day is lining his pockets challenging that system. For years we were told there was a swap in property tax relief for a progressive income tax. Never happened. Progressive income tax is coming and Madigan still lobbied to protect his golden goose.

    If you ran ads on a daily basis of how Madigan profits for legislation, holds campaign money from members, state money from their districts, and even dumped a foney candidate into an election and changed the name to Trump, IL democrats would lose their minds demanding impeachment.

    Stop talking about corruption and changes. This is who we are, it is who Madigan in. Dump Madigan or shut up and we can fix the problem when he is gone.

    Lather, Rinse, Repeat.

    This press cycle is identitcal to the sexual harassment cycle. Barely changes the language of the releases.


  32. - Todd - Wednesday, Oct 30, 19 @ 3:20 pm:

    lets not forget all those county officials and mayors who lobby the GA


  33. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Oct 30, 19 @ 7:07 pm:

    === For years we were told there was a swap in property tax relief for a progressive income tax. Never happened. Progressive income tax is coming and Madigan still lobbied to protect his golden goose.===

    Not really.

    The progressive income tax is a constitutional amendment.

    The property taxes in of themselves are not a constitutional issue of taxing, nor are they linked as such, constitutionally.

    === If you ran ads on a daily basis of how Madigan profits for legislation, holds campaign money from members, state money from their districts, and even dumped a foney candidate into an election and changed the name to Trump, IL democrats would lose their minds demanding impeachment.===

    … and yet, Rauner and company spent $130+ million, did a movie about Madigan, and today Madigan is more powerful, the Democratic Party has never been stronger in the GA, Democrats hold every constitutional office, both US Senate seats, and 13 of 18 congressional seats.

    Scream if you need to, but “Fire Madigan” is a failure, by any measure.

    === Dump Madigan===

    It’s Fire Madigan 18.0… “Dump Madigan”… fun.


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