"What this state needs a little bit more of is people who aren't
cowering in their shadow because they're afraid of how somebody is
going to react to the truth," Patrick M. Collins told the City Club
of Chicago on Wednesday.
Collins launched the commission at the
direction of Gov. Pat Quinn. On Tuesday it delivered a sweeping
blueprint for overhauling ethics laws, including a limit on campaign
contributions and an end to so-called gerrymandered congressional
districts, whose awkward shape is designed to help specific
lawmakers get re-elected.
But Collins, the former U.S. attorney who sent former Gov. George
Ryan to prison, said an electorate eager for reform is needed before
it can be fully achieved.
"When ethics reform is to be debated in Springfield, how many TV
trucks are going to be there?" he said.
He said he knows some political observers are calling him naive
for hoping to influence a state legislature that has resisted change
in the state's unlimited campaign finance laws.
The commission's recommendations urge not only limits on the size
of campaign contributions, but a pilot project that would provide
for public financing of campaigns in some cases. He said that would
eliminate a conflict of interest.
"The notion that I can give $100,000 to a judge and appear before
her the next day on a matter is crazy," he said.
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Collins' remarks were peppered with acknowledgments that it won't be
easy getting reform measures through a legislature notorious for its
resistance to change.
But he said the commission heard from people around the state who
want something new.
"I wish some of the folks who are poo-pooing this report and
saying it's pie in the sky -- they ought to go to some of the places
we went," Collins said.
By MIKE ROBINSON]
Mike Robinson is a legal affairs
writer for AP.
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