By Angela Caputo Thursday April 9th, 2009, 4:31pm
In the wake of the Blagojevich scandal, many activists and civic-minded residents are hoping that 2009 is the year the Illinois General Assembly finally reforms the state’s lax campaign finance laws. In January, we highlighted a batch of campaign finance reform measures that are being considered in Springfield. Today, the CHANGE Illinois coalition led a rally in downtown Chicago demanding that the legislature place a cap on campaign contributions.
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CHICAGO – Leaders of the CHANGE Illinois! coalition on Thursday said the federal criminal indictment of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich has done additional damage to the state’s reputation and urged state legislators to act quickly to enact limits on campaign contributions.
“Rod Blagojevich is just the latest in a very long list of officeholders who have disgusted and disappointed the voters of Illinois,” said Peter Bensinger, a co-chair of CHANGE Illinois! and a former Administrator of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency. “This should be a wake-up call to state legislators in Springfield. Open your eyes to the need for real reform and vote to limit how much anyone can contribute to political campaigns.”
CHANGE Illinois! is a coalition of civic, business, professional, non-profit and philanthropic organizations aligned to bring government integrity to Illinois, and the coalition is calling for replacing the state’s unregulated campaign finance system with one modeled after the contribution limit system in place for federal elections and in almost all other states.
“How many more public officials have to go to prison before the people we send to Springfield get serious about campaign finance reform?” asked Deborah Harrington, a co-chair of CHANGE Illinois! and President of the Woods Fund of Chicago. “Illinoisans deserve fair and honest government, and voters must demand change in the way all elections are funded.”
CHANGE Illinois! has opened a toll-free hotline (1-800-719-3020) allowing voters to call their legislators and register their support for campaign contribution limits.
CHANGE Illinois! will hold a rally for reform outside the James R. Thompson Center, 100 W. Randolph St., Chicago, at 10 a.m. Thursday, April 9.
“The charges detailed in the Blagojevich indictment are repugnant, and the international headlines are going to cause corporations around the world to think twice about doing business here,” Bensinger said. “We need to restore the public’s faith in government and demonstrate to investors that reform will replace pay-to-play as the dominant force in Illinois politics.”
For additional information about CHANGE Illinois! and a list of member organizations, go to www.ChangeIL.org.