Monday, July 12, 2010

Quinn signs Blagojevich-related reforms

As former Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s corruption trial continues in Chicago under a high level of media scrutiny, Gov. Pat Quinn approved two bills that are direct responses to the former governor’s alleged misdeeds.

Jurors have recently been listening to recorded phone conversations in which the former governor speculates on his possible choices to fill President Barack Obama’s former U.S. Senate seat, as well as possible future high-paying jobs for himself. Blagojevich is accused of trying to sell off the Senate seat for campaign contributions or personal gain. The prosecution is expected to wrap up their case as early as today. Blagojevich's lawyers requested a week-long break before they start the defense, claiming prosecutors will finish earlier than expected.

After Blagojevich’s impeachment and removal from office, legislators introduced a flurry of measures intended to prevent future corruption similar to the accusations against the former governor and, in some cases, reprimand him for his alleged infractions. The impeachment also produced a hotly debated campaign finance reform measure as well as procurement reform and heightened ethical standards for state employees.

Now some of those proposals are becoming law. Over the weekend, Quinn signed Senate Bill 2551, which requires public officials convicted of corruption to hand any money garnered from their corrupt actions over to law enforcement agencies. The measure is modeled on existing anti-drug laws.

Quinn also approved House Bill 5109, which prohibits public funds from being spent on a portrait of a governor who was impeached and removed from office. A portrait of Blagojevich could hang in the “hall of governors” in the Statehouse, but it cannot be paid for with state dollars. Both measures go into effect January 1, 2011.

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