Today, in front of the Crain’s Chicago Business editorial board, Democratic candidate for governor JB Pritzker talked a big game about addressing corruption and conflicts of interest among elected officials but he failed to name names. That deficient approach won’t fix our problems in Illinois. Governor Rauner released the following statement in response:
“For too long, corrupt politicians like Mike Madigan and Joe Berrios have profited off a rigged property tax system while hardworking families have been left holding the bill. JB Pritzker claims that he opposes conflicts of interest for elected officials, but his loyalty to Mike Madigan is so strong that he refuses to call him out by name. You can’t fix a corrupt system without naming those who lead it.”
CRAINS: I’m struck that you are the only candidate who has, if I’m wrong tell me I’m wrong, who has not said that the problem is that the system itself is corrupt, that people in key legislative positions are conflicted because they’re protecting a system they make their living on, that in the Cook County level, that absolutely is broken, it doesn’t work. Taxes are not equitably distributed. You have no thoughts on any of that?
PRITZKER: I do, I think there is corruption in the system. I think what my opponents have done is try to localize it around one person or another person. I think there are big challenges. I think that we oughta make sure, for example, the question of what conflicts of interests that legislators have are called out, that they’re not allowed to vote on the issues. That are, you know, if you’re in one business in particular you shouldn’t be voting on issues that effect your business and what your income level is. I think that happens at every level of government, or at least it should happen at every level of government. And, when you’ve got a citizen legislature the way that we do here in the state of Illinois, where you allow people to have a job and to have a part-time legislature, which is what we have, you know those are challenges that you have to meet. And so making sure that the laws are commensurate with people calling out those conflicts of interest.
CRAINS: Should it be legal for a legislator to work as a property tax lawyer?
PRITZKER: I think it should not be legal for someone who is working in one industry to vote on things that effect that industry.
CRAINS: But you don’t have a problem with that person being able to work in that capacity?
PRITZKER: I think that you got to, again, make sure that their job as a legislator is separated from their private job so that it’s not effecting the public’s business, and that’s why I say once again that you need to make sure that we know the person’s conflict, what that job is, whatever it may be, and if they don’t get to vote on it…
Emphasis added because, the argument for making something illegal that probably can’t be made illegal aside, Pritzker completely fails to understand what a “citizen legislature” is.
Farmers shouldn’t vote on any agriculture-related bills? Teachers shouldn’t vote on any education and education funding bills? Cops shouldn’t vote on crime bills?
That’s just goofy.
The conflict of interest rules should prevent legislators from voting on bills that specifically benefit themselves or their companies or their employers, etc. If a bill is specifically designed to increase funding for one school’s teachers, then a legislator who teaches at that school should not vote on the bill.
* Also, I’d like to see Crain’s or somebody else publish a piece from a respected state legal scholar outlining how legislators can constitutionally be barred from practicing property tax law before we start making candidates pledge to outlaw it. This has the same feel of the ultimately doomed pension reform frenzy to it.
I do not see any way you can legislate what a person does for a living. If a person who is a truck driver, how could you tell him to change professions because he may vote on DOT bills. I could go on with this line including professors, carpenters, etc. etc. The whole concept is silly. If a conflict is identified, it should be dealt with. Why would you punish people who have no conflict of interest?
“When I run for Cook County Assessor, I’ll adress this ‘Cook County Assessment’ dilemma then. What is confusing is that Gov. Rauner is so concerned about corruption in Cook County and one industry and a handful of people, and it’s important, I’ll grant YOU… the fixation on Madigan or Burke or Berrios is Rauner wanting to defect his failures to work with the Democratic majorities, to fund his state agencies, save higher education, or pay vendors like those in social services. These are the type of questions you ask candidates for Assessor. I’m running for governor of Illinois”
The weather is bad, serious viruses are going around, things are politically uber-tense and there is upheaval in his campaign. For his own and his family’s sake and for his health JB should just take a day or two off totally away from the cameras and meetings and relax and regroup. Get his head together. As this Crain’s meeting shows, trying to perform under such stress is not helping matters.
I don’t think that JB is particularly bright. Kind, down-to-earth, etc. all seem to be real traits that the campaign did a good job of highlighting in the introductory phase, but the not that bright is really coming through in the late innings.
So let’s say we strike oil under the Capitol or something and the State suddenly has money again. The legislature passes a bill approping $100 million to venture capital incubators statewide. Under your rule, Gov. Pritzker, how could you sign the bill?
==So let’s say we strike oil under the Capitol or something and the State suddenly has money again. The legislature passes a bill approping $100 million to venture capital incubators statewide. Under your rule, Gov. Pritzker, how could you sign the bill?==
Seriously, if a Governor Pritzker signed a bill to give VCs $100 million, people would justifiably freak out.
To the comments that JB is “mediocre” or “not that bright”…if you just lived thru 72 hours of the biggest crisis of your career, maybe your life, and came before the Crain’s editorial board, which has some of the toughest and respected minds in local journalism, I’d like to see you come across half as well as he did. I actually think he walked out of there unscathed unlike either Kennedy or Biss.
==Arsenal is also unclear on the concept, apparently.==
One of us is. You picked the exact kind of hypo that *supports* the idea of banning lawmakers from making decisions on the industries they work in. Now, I didn’t like that idea when Rauner and Kennedy first pushed it, but this is the exact kind of thing they pointed to. No one wants a Governor with a VC background to give VCs a ton of money. You could’ve at least at least done the “farmers voting on the Ag budget” thing, but you were so desperate to say someone was flailing, you flailed yourself.
The court ruled indirectly on this when they threw out the redistricting amendment petition. One of its defects was that members of the commission couldn’t serve as elected officials for the next decade. The court found that was a restriction on office that was not allowable under the limited scope of a citizen-petition amendment. It would seem that any restriction on the profession of an office holder would be viewed in the same way.