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Clock Ticking on IL “Pay to Play” Game

September 18, 2008

Springfield, IL – The window of opportunity for a quick decision on the "pay to play" campaign finance reform bill is quickly closing, according to the Illinois Attorney General and dozens of interested groups. They're calling for the State Senate to reconvene immediately to vote on the bill.

It's up to just one man to make the call. That "referee" is Senate President Emil Jones, the only person who can reconvene the Senate to act on the measure. It would limit the practice of politicians getting campaign donations from people seeking state business.

The Reverend Al Sharp, director of Protestants for the Common Good, is not happy with the situation.

"That's the way it is. But that's unacceptable; that one person would have this kind of power over something so fundamental is really not right."

With financial troubles at big businesses, insurance companies, and mortgage companies, Reverend Sharp says, the time is right for this kind of reform on the state level.

"This is the political analog to corporate greed – same thing in a different arena. The special interests here are guilty of nothing less than bribery."

The House has already approved the bill (HB 824) after a veto by Governor Rod Blagojevich - and what happens next is a matter of timing. The House action is what many people believe to be the start of the "clock" on a 15-day window for the Senate to act. If that's true, there are just a few days left. However, Senator Jones has said he doesn't think the clock starts until the day the Senate reconvenes.

Deborah Smith/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - IL