Thursday, October 21, 2004

Latino caucus messed up. This has got to change.

When companies pony up between 3K and 10K to send state legislators (at no cost to themselves) to a posh resort, that's a bribe.

There's a lot of press on this B.S. junket that the Latino Caucus went on (paid for by. . .we don't know, since state law doesn't require disclosure from these would-be corporate bribers -- is briber a word?). I like Chicagoists's take on it here.

Most quoted people are going pretty easy on the caucus. Governor Blagojevich calls it a "perception problem" in today's Tribune, instead of a "corruption problem." I think most people believe (rightly) that no legislator would trade her vote for a campaign contribution (well, only a few of those old-timers left). But it's still not right to take that corporate money.

Too many Latino legislators voted for the SBC give-away bill, for example. I'm sure SBC kicked in for this trip, making it that more likely that a legislator would vote with SBC. The House vote on SB 885, the give-away bill, is here and the Senate vote is here. (Lots of the yes votes argued that since the unions were pushing for the bill, they'd back the union, but consumers were the ones who got ripped off, and I trust the Citizens Utility Board on any and everything having to do with utilities in Illinois. They campaigned hard against the bill.)

I'm sure that lots of other legislators and caucuses go on these junkets too, so I don't mean to suggest the Latino legislators are worse than average on ethical government. They just got all the press. That loophole in state law needs to get plugged. And really, the legislators shouldn't go on the junkets in the first place.

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