The Southern Illinoisan
August 25, 2011
By Codell Rodriguez
Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon is looking for more disclosure from lawmakers.
In particular, she wants more information on the Statements of Economic Interest.
Simon is working with the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform and Legislative Inspector General Thomas Homer to create stronger SEI forms.
The forms require that legislators list businesses or entities he or she has financial ties to. She said she hopes to see the forms tightened but with more specific questions.
She said people in Illinois want more financial disclosure and by enforcing more thorough forms and having the information online, lawmakers can be held more accountable. She said she hopes that such disclosure can begin restoring faith in Illinois politics.
She hopes to introduce legislation to revise the SEI forms in the next few months.
David Morrison, deputy director of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform, said in the news release that the move can have a positive effect on mistrust of Illinois politics.
"Comprehensive economic disclosure illuminates potential conflicts of interest," Morrison said. "Putting a spotlight on the economic interests of public officials can reduce public skepticism and distrust."
He praised Horner for calling for more disclosure on conflicts of interest and better standards for handling those conflicts.
"... I believe that the General Assembly should act swiftly to expand and clarify the provisions of the Code of Conduct, provide penalties for violations and enhance the level of reporting required for the Statements of Economic Interests," Horner wrote in a letter to the General Assembly. "Our current inability to address alleged and recurring conflicts of interest, due to weak or non-existent laws, threatens to undermine effective action to curb abuses and that of the General Assembly to win vital public support for important legislative initiatives."
Simon said she would like to see an easy to search online database similar to one used by the Cook County Clerk's office.
"If the state is doing the same thing we'll be in a lot better situation," Simon said.