Financial disclosure a target of lawmakers’ ethics quest

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) – Ethics scandals rocking the Illinois Statehouse this fall have lawmakers promising to tighten rules around influencing legislation. One focus is on financial disclosure.

More than 26,000 legislators and other state employees must annually file a statement of economic interest. Experts say it falls short.

Cathie Jackson is a Virginia attorney who helps federal judges complete financial disclosure. She says the Illinois form requires reporting income, dividends, and capital gains. But she says it’s light on compelling an explanation of how they were obtained.

Gary Schons says Illinois needs a law prohibiting lawmakers to vote on issues where they have conflicts of interest. The San Diego lawyer and California disclosure expert says disclosure is a way of reminding public officials to steer clear of conflicts that could result in discipline. Illinois has no such penalties.