Ill. lawmakers seek campaign finance reform

February 2, 2009 9:17:57 PM PST
Ousting Rod Blagojevich as Illinois governor is fueling the fight to end pay-to-play politics in Illinois. Supporters of campaign finance reform say now is the time for change.

Both Democrats and Republicans say the Blagojevich scandal gives them a unique opportunity to stop pay-to-play politics and they say now is the time to act.

Two Republicans - one a state senator, the other a U.S. congressmen - say they have a plan.

"It has become increasingly clear that the time for disinfecting Illinois politics is now," said Sen. Matt Murphy.

Republican State Senator Matt Murphy and Congressman Mark Kirk are joining together to limit donations at the state and federal level.

"I think the American people should know all of these earmarks and be able to see who is raising money from people who have received a designation from the federal treasury," said Congressman Kirk.

In Illinois there are no limits on campaign contributions from individuals or political action committees, but a new ban on contributions from high dollar state contractors went into effect last month.

Cindy Canary is the director for Campaign form Political Reform.

She hopes that the Blago scandal and public outcry may make a difference in how money is allocated and donated.

"Legislators who say well, you know, same old, same old, we've got a good prosecutor, we don't need good laws. I don't think there is anymore tolerance for that argument," said Canary.

The new governor has pledged to rid state politics of corruption.

In fact, his first order of business as head of the state was to sign an executive order authorizing a reform commission he set up as lieutenant governor to report directly to the governor's office.

After meeting with Mayor Daley in an effort to mend strained relationships left sour by his predecessor, Quinn too said now is the time to act.

"This is an ideal opportunity, a once in the lifetime opportunity for the people of Illinois to have an independent group that proposes fundamental reforms that will save taxpayers money," said Quinn.

Both Kirk and Murphy want Illinois laws to mirror the current federal limits on individual campaign contributions and put new limits on money donated by companies.

The general assembly returns to Springfield next week and campaign contribution reform could be one of the first issues on the agenda.