May 23, 2007


It is time for Illinois Senate President Emil Jones to let the will of the Congress proceed. The House pass has pay-to-play bill with a 116-0 vote.
The proposed legislation would prohibit any individual or business with more than $25,000 in state contracts from contributing to the officeholder who awarded those contracts. Bidders also would have to disclose how much they had given to the officeholder awarding the contract in the previous two years. The contribution ban would be in effect for two years past the completion of the contract, or for the length of the officeholder's term.
More than 35 state Senators have singed on as co-sponsors to the pay-to-play bill, which is enough votes to send the bill to Governor Rod Blagojevich for this signature. Lets us not be naive, this bill will not end the practice of pay-to-play politics between elected officials and state contractors. But, it is a good and necessary first step. Democratic Senate President Emil Jones should not use the Rules Committee to kill off this bill.
The bill is assigned to the Rules Committee in the Senate, which is the committee where many good bills go to die. The decision on whether the bill gets considered rests with Jones. Often when Jones assigns a bill to the Rules Committee, that means it will never receive a hearing in the Senate.

There are only a few reasons Jones wouldn't allow the bill to be called. One may be that he's sure the bill would pass, and he doesn't want to put his ally, Blagojevich, in the uncomfortable position of having to decide whether to sign it. Blagojevich has indicated little zeal for ending the practice of pay to play.
Obviously, the Governor Blagojevich does not want to see his prolific funding raising capabilities come to an end.
"The one person who has an interest in bottling this 'pay-to-play' legislation up is the governor, because this would be unilateral disarmament for the governor's fundraising operation," said the chief House sponsor, Rep. John Fritchey (D-Chicago).
I never was shy to criticize Governor Blagojevich over the years. Blagojevich has been very progressive governor, but not on the issue of corruption. Governor Blagojevich is under investigation and Federal prosecutors just subpoenaed his campaign records. I’m willing to give the Governor the benefit of doubt, but now it is not the time for Blagojevich and Jones to playing games over the pay-to-play bill. Let the bill come up for a vote in the Senate and send it to the Governor’s desk.


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