Rauner unveils ethics reform proposals

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While blasting Gov. Pat Quinn’s record on ethics reform as “just wrapping paper to cover up corruption,” Bruce Rauner unveiled his ethics reform plan at a press conference Wednesday in Chicago.

If elected governor, the Republican candidate said he would request a federal hiring monitor at the Illinois Department of Transportation, which is facing a federal lawsuit over patronage hiring. He also said he wants to establish an online portal for voters to research all non-civil service hires.

He also would back a one-year revolving-door ban to prevent senior executive officials from having served as lobbyists in their preceding 12 months or from becoming a lobbyist within 12 months after they leave their government positions, he said. This would include chiefs of staff, deputy governors, deputy chiefs of staffs, agency heads and legislators.

Rauner said he would push for constitutional amendments to:

◆ Take legislative redistricting away from the Illinois General Assembly and turn it into to a nonpartisan, independent process.

◆ Set eight-year term limits for legislators and executive officeholders.

◆ Extend recall provisions to statewide elected officials and members of the Illinois General Assembly.

◆ Allow for multiple expulsions of legislators for the same event. He pointed to the expulsion of state Rep. Derrick Smith in 2012 for bribery. Later, in November 2012, Smith was re-elected, but the Illinois House had no power to expel him again.

“We need honest people in government,” Rauner said. “We should not have criminals in government.”

Calling Quinn “a corrupt, career politician,” he pointed to federal grand juries in Springfield and Chicago looking into Quinn’s failed 2010 Neighborhood Recovery Initiative.

“In Illinois four out of our last seven elected governors have gone to prison,” Rauner said. “Every one of those four started with an investigation by the U.S. District Attorney in the Northern District. . . . We know where that movie ends.”

Quinn spokeswoman Brooke Anderson shot back in an email statement that Rauner “has zero credibility when it comes to ethics — he has profited from fraud, abuse and mismanagement of his own businesses and taxpayer dollars throughout his career.”

Anderson pointed to a $13 million Medicaid fraud settlement the federal government received from APS Healthcare, which was owned by GTCR, a Chicago company Rauner chaired until 2012.

“Unlike Governor Quinn, who takes responsibility and fixes problems whenever they arise, Bruce Rauner takes no responsibility but always takes the profits,” Anderson said.

She added that Rauner seems to be “borrowing” some of Quinn’s ethics reform proposals related to redistricting, term limits, lobbyists and recalls.

Rauner called the APS Healthcare settlement an “old story.”

“Our representatives on the board of directors of that company, when bad behavior was uncovered, took action to settle it and clean house there,” he said.

Rauner said his reform playbook for Illinois also includes: proposed laws to restrict legislative leaders’ outside employment; adding censure and administrative penalties for violations of ethics laws; disclosing earmarks on the General Assembly’s website.

He said he also would work to stop pensions for felons by pushing for the extension of the pension prohibition law to include other public corruption-related federal and state crimes.

Rauner, a minority owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers, said he has not talked with anyone from the Steelers regarding the National Football League’s handling of the cases of domestic abuse against Ray Rice and child abuse against Adrian Peterson.

“I am working here in Illinois to win an election and transform our government so it’s run for the people,” Rauner said. “That’s 100 percent of my focus.”

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