After covering Tuesday’s Joint Committee on Government Reform meeting, Capitol Fax intern Mike Murray came to an interesting conclusion:
even when the local press covers ethics reform, they consistently omit
important context and legislative specifics. Tuesday was a great
After covering Tuesday’s Joint Committee on Government Reform meeting, Capitol Fax intern Mike Murray came to an interesting conclusion: even when the local press covers ethics reform, they consistently omit important context and legislative specifics. Tuesday was a great example. Only three papers covered the hearing. The AP’s story didn't mention Scott Turow’s testimony calling campaign finance reform essential, the State-Journal Register’s piece was extremely narrow in focus, and the Tribune’s solitary paragraph devoted to campaign finance contained virtually no context. Cue Murphy:
This should have been the lead story for all coverage of this hearing. Scott Turow chaired the Executive Ethics Commission from 2005-2008 and is now the Commissioner of Executive Ethics Commission. The Commission is in charge of oversight of ethics legislation, and as such Mr. Turow is in a uniquely qualified position to comment on what IL reform efforts will require to be successful. As such, the more weight should have been given to his testimony that he has a “strong view that ethics reform must be accompanied by campaign finance reform”.
While we’ve had our beef with FOX Chicago in the past, Dane Placko’s report last night on Illinois’ weak campaign finance system presents a nice contrast. While a bit shallow, he covers some of the ground we treaded in our feature article last month. Watch it:
Placko cites two particularly interesting facts. First, 36 percent of the money former Gov. Rod Blagojevich raised came in increments of over $25,000 dollars.
And in Cook County, where laws are equally lax, pay-to-play takes a different shape. In 2008, Board President Todd Stroger received 320 individual contributions, 171 of which those donations came from people who work for the county, almost all of them Stroger appointees. Ald. Toni Preckwinkle, who is challenging Stroger in 2010, has already pledged not to take employee contributions because the practice has “an odor of coercion about it.”
We know that most Illinois newsrooms are stretched thin these days. But when two of the state’s most powerful legislators are already hedging on the need for campaign finance reform, the local press needs to step up and start questioning their motives.