Ethics Question of the Day: You're a legislator, and a bill comes before you that would directly benefit a lobbying client of your dad. Do you vote, do you step out of committee or do you recuse yourself?
State Rep. Maria Berrios (D-Chicago) told Illinois Review today that it did not occur to her to recuse herself or be subbed out of voting on SB 349 May 12 when the video poker legalization bill came before the House Executive Committee.
"No," she said,"We had a lot of other bills we were working on that day," so she didn't think it inappropriate to vote on legislation through which her father's lobbying client Coin Operators' Association could gain up to $600 million a year.
When asked if she was aware the Coin Operators were clients of her father Cook County Democratic Party chair Joe Berrios when she made the vote in Executive Committee, she said yes, she knew they were a client of her father.
"But he does not talk to me about legislation he's working on," Berrios said via phone from her Springfield office. "He has not talked about SB 349 with me. If I have any questions I talk to Zach Stamp [another Coin Operators' lobbyist] or Rep. Mautino."
Was your father in the room the day you made that vote, IR asked.
"No, I don't believe he was," she said.
SB 349 passed Executive Committee with a 9 to 2 vote (click on image to enlarge).