Monday, February 28, 2005
As Mary Massingale reports in the State Journal-Register, Illinois Comptroller Dan Hynes has proposed new legislation which would ban contributions from companies that receive state contracts.
The proposal, which has not yet been introduced in the state legislature, is a fairly weak form of legislation known as pay-to-play. Under Hynes's plan, companies that receive more than $25,000 in state contracts are banned from contributing to the officeholder which awards the contract.
Pay-to-play legislation is designed to address a problem that most of America addressed decades ago. However, in certain historical hotbeds of political corruption, like Philadelphia and Chicago-centered Illinois, companies still pay officeholders tons of money for specific legislative favors. Thus, pay-to-play ideas like Hynes's.
For most areas of the country and for the nation as a whole, pay-to-play laws are simply a distraction from the larger and deeper problem of wealthy interests using their cash to get their guy or gal into office. If you can use your money to get that done, pay-to-play very nearly becomes irrelevant -- why pay for something that's already yours?
In Illinois, where wealthy interests can and do give unlimited donations to candidates, they can do just that. If Illinois would addresses that larger problem of money buying election results, proposals like Hynes's would wind up in the state historical museum instead of on the floor of the legislature.