Manar urges nine ethics reforms ahead of commission’s final report

SPRINGFIELD – In response to ongoing federal investigations surrounding Illinois government, state Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, is calling on the Joint Commission on Ethics and Lobbying Reform to consider including in their final report sweeping measures that would overhaul ethics laws in Illinois.

Manar sponsored a 2017 piece of legislation that closed loopholes allowing Cabinet-level appointees of the Illinois governor to use official positions to campaign for candidates. Additionally, he was a Senate sponsor on a 2019 piece of legislation that created the Joint Commission on Ethics and Lobbying Reform.

“What’s being proposed is long overdue,” Manar said. “The last several years have made it clear that there are glaring blind spots in our ethics laws. Transparency and accountability are two principles that I believe are fundamental to a functioning government, and it’s time that we act.”

Among the measures Manar is encouraging the Joint Commission to consider:

•      Establishing term limits on legislative leadership;

•      Enacting a policy to temporarily remove a legislator as a leader and/or committee chair during a criminal investigation or in the event of a charge/indictment;

•      Prohibiting legislators from lobbying elected officials from other units of government;

•      Establishing at least a one-year prohibition on legislators leaving their offices and working as lobbyists;

•      Expanding disclosure of legislators’ outside income; and

•      Enabling the Legislative Inspector General to self-initiate investigations and making it an independent agency for the purposes of budgets and hiring.

These measures are supported by a broad coalition of lawmakers and advocacy groups, including Change Illinois and Reform for Illinois.

“This is a list of very simple things that I believe could receive broad support from both Democrats and Republicans and at the same time would have a profound impact on restoring trust in state government,” Manar said.

The Joint Commission on Ethics and Lobbying Reform continues to meet prior to its expected issuance of a final report of recommendations.

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