Quad City Times
January 20, 2011
By Kiera Manion-Fischer
SPRINGFIELD — As her one of her first official acts, Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon released a statement of her personal finances Thursday.
She had previously stated a commitment to open government and transparency and expressed hope that other state leaders would follow her example.
“To the best of my knowledge, I am the only officeholder who is doing this, but that’s not a distinction that I wish to have for very long,” Simon said. “I would welcome any company along the way, but I want to lead by example.”
The financial statement included Simon and husband Perry Knop’s $102,624 home in Carbondale as well as her parents’ former $323,388 home in Makanda.
The couple’s vehicles — a family van and a Chevy S10 pickup — have a combined value of $10,945.
“You can tell that they’re pretty old by their total value,” she said.
Simon received a salary of $35,954 as a law professor at Southern Illinois University for three months at the beginning of 2010. She stopped accepting pay during the campaign to avoid a conflict of interest and continued to teach as a volunteer for the rest of the semester, she said. Her income also included $7,030 in textbook royalties and approximately $500 from Simon’s band Loose Gravel’s performances.
The statement also includes liabilities of $37,749, which Simon described as “a fairly big chunk of credit card debt, which is partly due to the nature of the last nine months of what I did, which was campaigning and not being paid.”
Simon and her husband’s combined net worth is $586,709. It includes stocks and mutual funds valued at $100,960. The couple own 250 shares of Class B stock worth nearly $20,000 in Berkshire Hathaway, which is a company chaired by Omaha, Neb.-based investor Warren Buffett.
At the same time, Simon issued an executive order that will prevent her employees from accepting food or refreshments from lobbyists. Under current law, state employees may accept refreshments valued at up to $75 per day.
“We pay for our own lunch,” she said. “We just won’t get free lunches from lobbyists.”
Simon’s office currently employs a staff of seven, and several others will start soon, she said.
The order also prohibits employees of state constitutional officers and commissioners, trustees, directors and state agency board members appointed by the governor from contributing to Simon’s campaign fund.
“The bottom line is,” Simon said, “contributions and employment are not a good mixture. I don’t want them in the same picture.”
Simon said she intends to release a statement of her finances every year, along with her tax returns. Her tax returns from 2010 will be released when she files them, she said.