Cook County lists lobbyist work online
In a new database hailed as a model for government, lobbyists in Cook County must now report what they're up to online.
The site, at cookcountyclerk.com, lists all 188 registered lobbyists in the county, what they're lobbying about, who they're contacting, and what they're being paid.
The most-contacted person in the county, according to the site, was Cook County Chief Financial Officer Jay Williams, with more than 30 hits, much of it from companies who want to underwrite county bond issues.
Other reasons for lobbying included widening of River Road in Des Plaines, red-light camera contracts, and health-care access and contracts.
Cook County Clerk David Orr said the site makes the lobbying registration process easier and more useful because it's paperless, available to the public 24 hours a day, requires reporting within 48 hours, and discloses a previously unavailable database that can be searched by keyword, lobbyist or official.
"We're now getting information already that we didn't get before," Orr said. "We believe it's quite successful in trying to shed light on who's trying to influence government."
David Morrison, assistant director of The Illinois Campaign for Political Reform, said Chicago and Illinois should adopt a similar method for reporting lobbying.
He noted that recent federal charges against both ex-governors Rod Blagojevich and George Ryan included allegations of improper payments disguised as lobbying compensation.
"We'd love to see more of this," Morrison said. "This is a model for the rest of the state."