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December Ninth: A Big Day On Illinois' Ethics Timeline


 December Ninth is a significant day in Illinois' political history: for better, and for worse.

On Dec. 9, 2003 "the State Officials and Employees Ethics Act was signed into law," Illinois Campaign for Political Reform's David Morrison says.

That was Illinois lawmakers' response to the Hired Truck scandal that landed former Gov. George Ryan in prison. It created inspectors general with subpoena power, limited lobbyists' wining and dining of officials, and set conduct standards for state workers.

"The same day ... and while we're there at the signing ceremony, we get word that Paul Simon had passed away."

Morrison says that makes the day bittersweet.

Add on what comes next. 

Five years later, also today, was when Ryan's successor, Gov. Rod Blagojevich, was arrested -- in part for rewarding donors with state contracts or jobs.

"And that began the whole process that culminated in him going to jail," says Morrison; Blagojevich is serving a 14 year prison term in Colorado.

Illinois lawmakers had a response to that scandal too. On Dec. 9, 2009 they passed a limit on campaign contributions.

This would have been the first governor's race with caps, but ultra-wealthy Republican Bruce Rauner triggered an exception, since has donated more than a million dollars to his own campaign. That means all candidates for governor can raise unlimited piles of cash from whomever they want, at least through the primary.

Amanda Vinicky moved to Chicago Tonight on WTTW-TV PBS in 2017.
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