Rezin legislation targets ethics of elected officials

To bring more honesty, transparency, and public trust to Illinois government, State Sen. Sue Rezin is pushing several pieces of legislation that would tighten rules for constitutional officers and legislators.

“It’s no secret Illinois has a dark history when it comes to unethical behavior of elected officials,” Rezin said. “We must do all we can to make sure everything that goes on in Springfield is open and truthful, and not done in a cloud of smoke or political controversy.”

Rezin’s Senate Bill 2764 would enhance the state’s grant-making process by preventing elected officials from abusing their power when awarding grants. The legislation would impose a blackout period on constitutional officers and legislators from announcing grants close to an election; require a merit-based review of how grant recipients are selected, which will require documentation of award decisions including evaluation and scoring of applicants; and authorize a state agency to stop payments to any grant recipient that is not in compliance with the agreement.

The legislation is in response to the months-long audit review of former Gov. Pat Quinn’s controversial Neighborhood Recovery Initiative (NRI). Many questioned Quinn’s political motives with the more than $50 million NRI launch, when it occurred just before the 2010 gubernatorial election.

“These are common-sense initiatives that make sure elected officials are not gaming the system politically and taxpayer dollars are not abused,” Rezin said. “NRI was another black eye for Illinois. This legislation prevents that from happening again.”

Rezin is also co-sponsoring several other pieces of legislation (Senate Bills 754, 755, 756, 757, 758) that deal with lobbyists disclosing business or family relationships with legislators, legislators disclosing family members who are lobbyists, legislators disclosing conflicts of interest, barring legislators from negotiating for employment as a lobbyist while still in office, and barring legislators from becoming a lobbyist for one year after they leave office.

“These ethics measures are just another step Illinois government must take in order to rebuild trust with citizens,” Rezin said. “Changing the corruption and the ‘business as usual’ behavior starts with changing the culture. A government of the people, by the people, and for the people must always be honest with the people.”

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