Days before an indictment of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich is expected, a commission aimed at reforming "pay to play" politics called on lawmakers today to comprehensively change the way business is done in Illinois.
"Enough is enough," said former federal prosecutor Patrick Collins, who heads the Illinois Reform Commission. "It is now or never."
Collins and other members of the commission, including former federal prosecutor and city inspector general David Hoffman, said the media and public needs to keep the spotlight on lawmakers to follow through on real reform.
Among the specific recommendations:
• Cap limits on contributions at $2,400 from individuals and $5,000 for political committees.
• Require year-round, "real-time" reporting of campaign contributions. Now, politicians file disclosures periodically, which could mean the public doesn't know about a big-money contribution for six months.
• Move the primary from February to June. That would shorten the election cycle, and thus curb reliance on donors to fund campaigns and allow voters to grade politicians on their performance after lawmakers have cast their votes on bills.
• Take the contracts dispersement out of political hands -- give it to an independent authority. Hoffman said the state gives out about $10 billion in contracts every year -- that's about the same amount the state collects in income taxes, he said. That lucrative pot of cash is where much of the pay to play politics comes up. Hoffman said that in most cases, department or agency heads said they were powerless to stop their political bosses from steering contracts to political donors. Hoffman said the system, as constructed: "is way too weak to stop it."
Group: Here's the fix for pay to play in Illinois
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