Rauner: Let voters recall lawmakers

Republican Bruce Rauner Wednesday unveiled a package of ethics proposals that includes giving voters the chance to recall elected lawmakers.

The move fits Rauner's anti-Springfield message and takes on an issue Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn has often held dear. Quinn pushed for Illinoisans to get the opportunity to recall governors in the wake of the Rod Blagojevich scandal and has often referred to that effort when mentioned in the same breath with his former running mate.

Illinoisans already can recall a governor if a movement gathers an immense number of signatures. Changing the recall rules requires an amendment to the constitution, and Rauner proposed adding state lawmakers and other statewide officials to the list of officials who could be pulled from office.

Rauner in recent weeks has pounced on allegations of political hiring at the Illinois Department of Transportation under Quinn. His reform proposals include changing hiring practices and disallowing top staff members from becoming lobbyists for a year after they leave the state.

"He has betrayed the public's trust," Rauner said in a statement. "We need real ethics reform to restore integrity and confidence to state government."

Quinn shot back, pointing to some of the troubles seen at companies owned by Rauner's investment firm. On Wednesday, Quinn's campaign criticized Rauner for sidestepping a question about domestic violence and the NFL. Rauner has an ownership interest in the Pittsburgh Steelers.

"Unlike Gov. Quinn who takes responsibility and fixes problems whenever they arise, Bruce Rauner takes no responsibility but always takes the profits," Quinn spokeswoman Brooke Anderson said in a statement.

Only lawmakers and voters can put amendments on the constitution, so neither Rauner nor Quinn would have to sign a proposed amendment to make it law.

It's unclear how effective it would be to allow voters to recall lawmakers, who largely serve two-year terms. The process of recalling an official can be a long one, and dissatisfied voters could vote them out at the next election.

But some in the Illinois Senate serve four-year terms.

State Sen. Dan Duffy, a Lake Barrington Republican, said he liked the idea and that it could provide additional accountability during those longer terms. Plus, he said, lawmakers shouldn't act in a way to get recalled.

"It shouldn't be an issue that worries a state legislator," he said.

State Sen. Melinda Bush, a Grayslake Democrat, said it's an idea that sounds good at first but is probably meant to sound good politically.

"I would be inclined to call it politics at this point," she said.

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