(CST)Obama Ducks Call To Push Reform In Illinois

Discussion in 'Congress' started by SolarEnergy1, Sep 12, 2008.

  1. SolarEnergy1
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    SolarEnergy1 Member

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    [Obama] ducked a plea Thursday to use his influence to safeguard landmark state legislation barring big government contractors from making campaign contributions.

    In the middle of a simmering Statehouse ethics battle is Obama's "political godfather," Senate President Emil Jones (D-Chicago), who triggered questions Thursday about whether he may allow the legislation to die after the Nov. 4 election.

    Designed as a response to the "pay-to-play politics" that have flourished under Gov. Blagojevich, the plan would bar firms with more than $50,000 in state contracts from donating to the officeholder in charge of the deals.

    But the governor entirely rewrote the plan, stripping out that language and putting it in an executive order. In its place, he inserted provisions into the original legislation to deal with how lawmakers award themselves pay raises and to bar the practice by some state officeholders of holding outside, non-elected government jobs.

    A top government watchdog group that worked closely with Obama during his Springfield years urged the Illinois senator to intervene at a time he is trying to make his reform credentials a cornerstone of his presidential campaign.

    "As a presidential candidate, this is small potatoes. But as Illinois' U.S. senator, this is a place he could come in and quickly clean up some of the damage and serve his state," said Cindi Canary, director of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform, which has pushed for the donation restrictions for three years.

    On Wednesday, the Illinois House rejected Blagojevich's rewrite, 110-3. Under the state Constitution, the Senate has "15 calendar days" to follow suit, or the plan as originally written will die.

    Jones announced Thursday he would not reconvene the Senate until Nov. 12 but claimed the stopwatch wouldn't start until that date. That interpretation of the Constitution is not believed to have been tested in the state courts, possibly inviting a legal challenge.

    Canary said the senator has an obligation to weigh in against the governor's changes in order to ensure the original "pay-to-play" measure survives and to prod Jones into allowing a vote before the election.

    "A 30-second phone call to the Illinois Senate president could yield huge dividends to this state," she said.

    Though Jones voted in favor of the original donation restrictions in May, spokeswoman Cindy Davidsmeyer said Thursday her boss has not determined whether he would allow a vote against Blagojevich's rewrite of the bill.

    Obama's campaign refused to tell the Sun-Times whether the senator supports either version. And a spokesman ducked questions on whether Obama would speak with Jones, as Canary suggested.

    The Obama response provided fodder to Republicans, who echoed Canary's call.

    "If he's the reformer he says he is, why would he not encourage cleaning up his home state, which is one of the most corrupt at this point in the United States?" said Sen. Christine Radogno (R-Lemont). "He has an opportunity to really put some action behind his words, and he won't do it.

    "If he's so influential and can get people to behave differently, Sen. Obama should be able to persuade the Senate president to call us back in now and get this done," she said.

    Obama ducks call to push reform in Illinois :: CHICAGO SUN-TIMES :: Politics
     
  2. Jeepers
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    Jeepers Senior Member

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    Thanks for the heads up Nancy.. ya think he might have a presidential election tying him up.
     

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