Springfield … Despite voicing concerns about its effectiveness, State Representative Michael Connelly (R-Naperville), today expressed his disappointment with the watered down campaign finance reform package which passed the House.
“The lack of teeth in this legislation is astounding when put in the context of what has happened politically over the past ten years in Illinois. Instead of allowing for an up or down vote on recommendations proposed by the non-partisan Illinois Reform Commission, the legislature received a watered down version that has more holes than swiss cheese,” stated Connelly. “I’m completely appalled by the Democrats lack of willingness to pass meaningful reform.”
House Bill 7, which is now awaiting the Governor’s signature, is essentially a weaker version of many of the proposals set forth by the Illinois Reform Commission. Provisions of the proposal include various contribution caps ranging from $5,000 for an individual to $90,000 for certain committee to committee transfers.
However, the problem isn’t necessarily what’s in the legislation; it’s what is missing that has many groups in an uproar. The legislation has several fatal flaws:
The legislation fails to cap in-kind contributions, leaving the door wide open for expenditures on behalf of candidates as opposed to direct donations.
It does not include year round “real time” contribution and expenditure reporting.
The legislation isn’t enacted until January, 2011 leaving an entire gubernatorial cycle under the status quo.
Despite these flaws, Governor Pat Quinn, a self identified reformer, testified on behalf of the measure in committee. This was an especially ironic move considering his own reform commission vehemently opposed the legislation citing the numerous loopholes contained in the legislation.
“Somewhere between the indictments of two governors, and countless other corruption cases, you would have thought change would have happened long before this,” said Rep. Connelly. “The residents of this state are crying out for reform, and this half-hearted measure is all they are going to be allowed to receive - thanks to the Democrats that run Illinois.”
Connelly also noted that the Illinois Reform Commission, Illinois Campaign for Political Reform and Change Illinois, and four former U.S. federal prosecutors have advocated campaign limits modeled after the federal system. These limits were reflected in House Bill 24, which the House Republicans attempted to propel into a floor debate Friday though a procedural move. The move was rejected by the Democrat leadership of the House.