Rauner pledges more information on personal finances, signs exec order on ethics

SHARE Rauner pledges more information on personal finances, signs exec order on ethics
SHARE Rauner pledges more information on personal finances, signs exec order on ethics

SPRINGFIELD — On his first full day on the job, Gov. Bruce Rauner vowed to open up more about his finances, enacted new restrictions on lobbying and promised to cancel as many actions as possible taken by the previous administration since Nov. 1.

Rauner fell short, however, of saying he would comply with a last-minute executive order that his predecessor, Pat Quinn, put in place just a day earlier.

That edict calls for Illinois’ chief executive to disclose tax returns and full tax schedules. Rauner — a multimillionaire — made the top pages of his tax return public during the campaign, but refused to provide supporting details.

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“The point we’re going to make is we want everyone to honor the law and expand accountability,” Rauner said. When pressed on what he planned to do personally, the new governor said: “I will be doing exactly what I will be asking all those folks. I will be disclosing more in my own financial disclosures as well.”

The language in the executive order includes a call for state employees to identify if they, their spouse or children under 18 have more than a 5 percent interest in a property in which the state is a tenant, lessor or has other interest. It also calls for disclosure of other paid positions.

Rauner also said his administration would reach back to Nov. 1 and cancel hirings and board appointments made by the Quinn administration.

“We want to rescind everything we possibly can and take a fresh, hard look,” he said.

The heart of the executive order adds restrictions against state employees becoming “revolving door” lobbyists.

Rauner said he was taking the actions intending to begin a new day in state government as well as save taxpayers every dollar that he could.

“State employees while serving in the executive branch will not be able to negotiate for compensation or employment with a lobbying entity or a lobbyist,” Rauner said. “No longer. We’re not going to allow it anymore.”

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Rauner also said his own employees would have to wait one year before working as lobbyists and said he would ask for more expansive disclosure on economic statements of interest — something he vowed he would also take part in.

Rauner said his administration had to move the effective date to Feb. 15 because so many people in then-Gov. Quinn’s administration were interested in moving into lobbying firms.

“There was gonna be a flood of departures,”Rauner said. “Shows how powerful this is and rather than be bereft of transition help, we decided to delay the implementation day.”

It isn’t unusual for a new administration to make a bold move involving ethics early on.

Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, for instance, issued a hiring freeze and ordered ethics training on state employees.

“I intend to use every power I have and my discretion as governor to eliminate unqualified, unnecessary and overpaid individuals wherever I can find them in state government,” said Blagojevich at the time.

The former governor is now in prison, serving a 14-year sentence on corruption charges.

Earlier on Tuesday, Rauner met with the so-called “four tops’ in a rare hour-long meeting.

“Everything was very forthcoming in terms of exchanging information. Nothing specific, no hard decisions were made. I think we all agreed to work together to solve some problems,” House Speaker Michael Madigan told reporters afterward.

Will it be a rocky transition for the state’s first Republican governor in more than a decade?

“It’ll be difficult if somebody wants to make it difficult, but that’s not going to be me,” Madigan said. “I plan to commit to the people of the state of Illinois and to Gov. Rauner to work cooperatively to solve the problems of the state.”

Senate President John Cullerton said he’s optimistic after the meeting.

“The governor is straight-forward, [a] very intelligent person that wants to learn,” the North Side Democrat said. “He indicated that he wants to be bipartisan, and so do we.”

Rauner called the meeting with Madigan, Cullerton, House Republican Leader Jim Durkin and Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno on the governor’s first full day on the job.

Such meetings had fallen by the wayside in recent years.

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