Former prosecutor to head reform panel

January 6, 2009 6:23:45 AM PST
Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn is calling for a year of reform in Illinois."We need to fumigate state government," Quinn said. Quinn is forming a commission to look at ways to clean up government. Former federal prosecutor Pat Collins will head the panel. Other members still have to be chosen.

Quinn said he hopes the panel will issue a final report to the state legislature by early April.

Andy McKenna, the chairman of the Illinois Republican Party, called the announcement "laughable" and says if Quinn is serious about ethics reform, he would have done it years ago.

Collins sat down with ABC7 to talk about how he might conduct the reform panel.

"I don't want to have the expectations overstated," Collins said. "We're going to try to make a contribution. We will bring together some different people who I think will bring different perspectives to this."

Collins hasn't named a panel yet, but said he is looking for people that would bring a "fresh, bold perspective" who will not care about the political ramifications of their suggestions.

"I think too much has been limited by the politics of the moment. I think because of what's going on, there is an opportunity to have smart, bold people who love Illinois, who are thinking outside the box," Collins said.

He said he hopes to have a panel in place by Monday.

Collins said that despite the GOP attack on Quinn's efforts, Collins sees the bigger picture.

"I did this because this is an opportunity to serve the state," he said. "I'm willing to give it a shot. If I fail, so be it."

Collins said he was already getting good feedback from people willing to serve on the panel.

"This is not going to be a political thing. I'm not going to talk politics. I don't care about politics. I don't know if I'm a Democrat or Republican. I just want to try to make a contribution from the perspective that I bring," Collins said.

Collins said his focus would not be on the current political scandal surrounding Springfield. That's U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald's territory, he said. Collins said he plans to look forward to improve the state.

"Every investigation I did in the U.S. Attorney's office had a campaign financing problem to it," Collins said. "These are going to be forward-looking thoughts. I'm not doing investigations. But I am going to sort of bring the same sort of energy and enthusiasm."

Collins is asking for public input on how to clean up Illinois corruption at

"Too much of us, I think, in a democracy, we expect the solutions to come from our government," he said. "Solutions should come from the people."