Criticized gift ban revision goes to Illinois governor

Monday, June 3, 2002

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- An ethics proposal that was criticized as election-year political cover went to Gov. George Ryan on Sunday, after an overwhelming victory in the House.

The bill bars government officials from soliciting campaign contributions from people or businesses they regulate. It also attempts to clarify a 1998 law that allows gifts of "nominal" value, by limiting them to $100 a year.

But the solicitation language doesn't apply to the legislature or governor's office, and it's unclear which local officials are covered.

"This is more about deflecting criticism than enacting reform," admitted sponsoring Rep. John Fritchey, D-Chicago.

But the Senate GOP says it hits at the heart of the bribes-for-licenses scandal that occurred in the secretary of state's office after Ryan was elected secretary in 1994.

More than 50 people have been indicted and more than 40 convicted in the federal probe that began with a crackdown on the sale of truck licenses to unqualified drivers for bribes.

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