Lobbyists will have to disclose additional information to the public under a measure Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed into law Wednesday.
When the General Assembly approved the measure last month, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle described it as a small step toward fixing state government ethics laws amid an ongoing federal corruption probe that has ensnared Democratic politicians from Chicago City Hall to the Capitol in Springfield.
The law, effective immediately, also requires the secretary of state to create a combined online database for information on lobbyists, campaign contributions and public officials’ annual statements of economic interest.
“The people of Illinois deserve a state government they can trust, and that means we need to put stronger ethical safeguards in place, prioritize transparency and demand more accountability from public servants,” Pritzker said in a statement. “While we took important steps in November to tighten ethics requirements and improve transparency, it’s critical to take additional action to end the unconscionable self-enrichment and corruption that has been uncovered.”
Before the legislation was called for a vote in November, House Democrats removed a provision that would have required lawmakers and other public officials to disclose more information about their personal financial interests.
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Lawmakers in November also approved the creation of a 16-member bipartisan task force to study the state’s ethics laws and recommend further changes. Pritzker’s appointments, also announced Wednesday, include Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton and his administration’s general counsel, Ann Spillane, along with two former GOP lawmakers: Department of Revenue Director David Harris and Steven Andersson, whom the governor previously appointed to the Illinois Human Rights Commission.
The Democratic and Republican leaders in the House and Senate each previously announced two picks from their respective caucuses. The remaining four members are appointed by Secretary of State Jesse White and Attorney General Kwame Raoul.
The bill signing came the same day a group of Republican representatives called on Pritzker to convene a special legislative session to address ethics issues.
Pritzker said at an unrelated bill-signing ceremony in Chicago that the idea of “a quickie special session ... doesn’t make a lot of sense.”
“That ethics commission, deliberately created with Republicans and Democrats, is designed to look at each of the issues that, in fact, those same state representatives would like to have reviewed and make sure that they’re done in the right way,” Pritzker said.