Ordinance to fine lobbyists donating to mayoral candidates advances in Chicago City Council

Friday, June 7, 2024
Ordinance to fine lobbyists donating to mayoral candidates advances in council
The Chicago City Council is closer to voting on an ordinance fining lobbyists for mayor campaign contributions. Johnson says it should apply to all.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- An ordinance aiming to prevent lobbyists from lining the campaign coffers of the Chicago mayor is one step closer to reality.

Mayor Brandon Johnson has faced criticism stemming from his opposition to the ordinance.

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"This is a common sense ordinance that helps us ensure we're keeping a 13-year-old rule on the books that says that candidates of mayors should be accountable to everyday Chicagoans and not lobbyists," said 47th Ward Alderman Matt Martin, who is also the chairman of the council's Ethics Committee.

During a committee hearing Thursday, the mayor's team twisted the arms of several alders to prevent a vote on the proposed ordinance, which would codify an existing executive order put in place by Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

"I think if you're a progressive mayor, if you're wanting to be transparent, provide the government you wrap your arms around legislation like that, knowing that people want to have their faith in you as a good steward of government," said 40th Ward Ald. Andre Vasquez.

ABC7 checked the mayor's campaign website, but there is not even a mention of ethics in the issues section.

The Chicago Board of Ethics discovered five separate instances where registered lobbyists contributed to the mayor's political committee, but the cases were all dropped when the board realized it had no authority to enforce the penalties in the executive order.

David Greising, president of the Better Government Association called the ordinance a no-brainer.

"The mayor really ought to go public and explain to us why he thinks this is so important that he be allowed to receive money from lobbyists," said Greising.

The mayor's office issued a statement saying in part, "An ethics ordinance targeting a specific official - as opposed to elected officials as a group - is unusual and a potential missed opportunity to implement best practices and expand the language to additional City of Chicago elected officials."

The city council could vote on the issues next Wednesday, unless the mayor finds a way to block it.