A former governor has a plan for what ails Illinois politics.
A Chicago federal jury’s guilty verdict in the Commonwealth Edison bribery conspiracy case has initiated another round of “what-can-we-do-to-stop-corruption” talk in Illinois.
The unfortunate answer is, most probably, nothing. The instinct is too deeply embedded in the DNA of the average public official. The greater their opportunities, the more enthused they become about the prospects of feathering their own nests.
There are, however, steps the state can take to disincentivize misbehavior. They involve eliminating the flexibility politicians have to monetize their public offices and raising the costs of getting caught.
Illinois, of course, already has ethics laws on the books that, at least on the surface, police the political class, most especially members of the Illinois House and Senate. Unfortunately, they have been written to provide the illusion of oversight, not real oversight.
That’s one reason why former Gov. Pat Quinn is back in the news. He’s come up with a series of proposals that he recently submitted to Gov. J.B. Pritzker. In his May 9 letter, he urged Pritzker and legislators to “take immediate action to protect the public trust and enact much stronger ethical standards for Illinois politicians and lobbyists.”
Quinn, of course, is a longtime foe of the political establishment, proudly carrying his rebel reputation even when he was governor from 2009 to 2015. It’s worth noting that he became governor when his corrupt predecessor, Rod Blagojevich, was removed from office through the impeachment process.
Not all of his eight proposals are great ideas. But some are overdue.
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