After a federal jury convicted former Gov. Rod Blagojevich of 17 felony counts of corruption, Blago’s former No. 2 stepped up to the microphones last week.
“This is a serious day for our state,” Gov. Pat Quinn said.
The convictions, Quinn continued, are a call for reformers to continue their efforts to root out government corruption.
“This is my mission, to reform our government so we do not have governors going to jail,” Quinn said.
Quinn ticked off a list of reforms enacted since he took office upon Blagojevich’s impeachment and conviction in 2009.
New limits on campaign finances and fundraising. New ethics laws for state employees. Reforms to the government procurement process and pension process. A constitutional amendment that allows for the recall of the governor. Reforms to the Illinois Freedom of Information Act.
The governor said more needs to be done. He called for granting the voters the power, through initiative and referendum, to enact ethics standards for local and state officials.
“We need to have an ethics initiative to make sure the people are consulted with respect to honesty in government and ethics and integrity in government. Today’s conviction only strengthens my resolve to push this effort forward,” Quinn said.
“I think it would be a very healthy thing for Illinois democracy to root out any kind of corruption by giving voters the opportunity at the ballot box to pass strong, no-nonsense ethics laws to protect the taxpayers and protect the public.”
Quinn, a Chicago Democrat who built his political reputation as a reformer, still talks a good game.
Such as, “Illinois government belongs to the people, not the politicians, not the officeholders, not the insiders.”
And, “Honesty is the only policy as long as I’m governor, and I think that’s what the people of Illinois want.”
But frankly, Quinn’s deeds must match his words.
We urge the governor to embrace a tougher ethics standard that matches his words.
Quinn gave his staff significant raises last year while the debt-ridden state struggled to pay its bills.
Quinn hired two defeated lawmakers for state jobs after they voted in favor of the state income-tax increase in January.
Most recently, Quinn signed legislative and congressional remap bills that were created by a system his own Reform Commission concluded was terribly flawed.
The governor can spout all the platitudes he wants, but actions speak louder than words.
Don’t give raises during a governmental financial crisis.
Don’t reward political allies with cushy, high-paying jobs.
Don’t sanction redistricting maps that put politics ahead of the people.
If it looks bad, don’t do it.
Governor, lead by example.