SPRINGFIELD — Hoping to avoid stepping into an election-year ethical quagmire, Gov. Pat Quinn said Monday he favors barring top aides from becoming lobbyists for one year after leaving state government.
The governor's proposal to create a revolving-door ban specifically for key staffers came just days after news reports focused on his former chief of staff, Jack Lavin, becoming a lobbyist roughly five months after leaving Quinn's side.
With the Democrat from Chicago facing a tough re-election campaign against wealthy Republican Bruce Rauner, spokeswoman Brooke Anderson announced Monday the governor is pursuing legislation that would put tougher regulations on future chiefs of staff and other top deputies.
"This law should be strengthened," Anderson said. "We're looking into this issue to see what can be done."
A Rauner spokesman skewered the move.
"If Gov. Quinn were truly serious about reform, he will order his entire administration not to take Mr. Lavin's phone calls," spokesman Mike Schrimpf said in an emailed statement.
Lavin, who was on the payroll as chief of staff December 2010 to October 2013, opened his own lobbying firm in February, according to records at the Illinois Secretary of State's office and the Illinois comptroller.
Under the state's revolving door law, certain state employees or former state workers cannot accept employment or compensation from a non-state employer if the worker, in the past year, made regulatory or licensing decisions or awarded contracts affecting the non-state employer.
Anderson said the governor wants the law to bar chiefs of staff, deputy chiefs of staff and deputy governors to the list of employees who are barred from lobbying for one year.
Thirty-five other states have laws barring lawmakers and other public officials from transforming themselves into lobbyists.
Anderson last week said Lavin consulted with the governor's legal team to determine whether he could move into the lobbying ranks.
Messages left at the Chicago office of Lavin Strategies Inc. were not immediately returned Monday.
In April, Barry Maram, former chief of the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services, was fined $100,000 for violating the revolving door ban when he began working for a law firm that had won a contract from the agency while Maram was in charge.