Springfield, IL. - (ECWd) -
The State of Illinois has had a spending problem for many years, and after over a decade of out of control taxation and spending the people spoke at the ballot box and overwhelmingly elected a new Governor. A governor that saw one of the major problems and took measures to rein in the out of control spending, this time on lobbyists. However, it appears his efforts have been circumvented either by the established way of doing business or by his own party affiliated officials, assuming they even know this is happening.
"Until further notice, please coordinate with your department's contact on the governor's policy team in advance of any meeting between your senior team members and registered lobbyists." (Click here for Chicago Tribune coverage)
Sounds good, however, it appears spending on lobbyists is a well engrained system that I suspect few are aware of as it continues in spite of efforts from the top spot in state politics to curb the expense.
It started under the control of Judy Baar Topinka and continues under the new Governor appointed Comptroller Leslie Munger, but where this gets interesting is how the money flows.
Although $60,000.00 a year is coming out of the budget for the Comptroller's office for a lobbyist, it is not a lobbyist for the Comptroller. Does that make any sense?
No, instead it's a lobbyist for the Chief Circuit Court Judges, but the contract goes through the Illinois Court Reporter Services Office, which by all indications is a state agency. Does that make any sense?
Several problems with this come to mind. For starters, Lobbyist are not permitted to accept compensation from a State agency for the purpose of lobbying legislative action. We called for prosecution of those violating this law in this article.
25 ILCS 170/11.3
Sec. 11.3. Compensation from a State agency. It is a violation of this Act for a person registered or required to be registered under this Act to accept or agree to accept compensation from a State agency for the purpose of lobbying legislative action.
Since 2012 there has been over $300,000.00 flow from the Comptroller's appropriations into the hands of the lobbying firm Shea Paige & Rogal’s. (2012 contract, 2013 contract, 2014 contract, and 2015 contract)
How is it that an administrative office for the Circuit Chief Judges can send out an RFP that is paid for with the Office of Comptroller's appropriations? Who controls the budget for Chief Judges? Is that a duty of the Office of Comptroller? (2008 RFP's received , 2010 RFP's received, and 2014 RFP's received)
As we can now see, the state is broke yet the Office of Comptroller, a state office, is spending $60,000.00 a year on lobbyists who are not allowed to accept compensation for lobbying a state agency. Then top it off with the fact the lobbying is on behalf of Chief Circuit Judges, but the RFP process is handled by the Illinois Court Reporter Services office. Anyone else find this very strange?
I guess the bigger questions are what does this lobbying firm actually do and why do Chief Judges need lobbyists? A request for their work product has been sent and we will update when more information is available.
For now, the State of Illinois is in a state of flux financially, yet the money continues to flow to the lobbyists!