City Council Committee Passes Lightfoot Ethics Package

The SBAC is a strong proponent of enacting good governance and ethics reforms which will increase the confidence the small business community has in Chicago’s government.

Yesterday, the Chicago City Council Committee on Ethics and Government oversight passed an ethics reform ordinance sponsored by Mayor Lori Lightfoot. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Lightfoot rejected criticisms that this ordinance didn’t go far enough and that it is important to “bring people along on the journey” and that she favors “doing things incrementally with an eye towards the end-game.” O2019-5305 is scheduled to be considered by the full City Council next week. You can read the full text of the proposed ordinance here.

Specifically, this reform package outlines that:

  • Aldermen and city employees would be prohibited from representing private clients in cases “that could affect the relative tax burden” on city residents.
  • The maximum fine for “high-level” ethics violations would increase to $5,000. The $500 limit for “low-level” violations would double to $1,000.
  • Inspector Joe Ferguson would be empowered to enforce his own subpoenas, granted full auditing and investigatory oversight over the City Council and authorized to launch his investigations five years after an offense occurs, instead of just two years after an alleged violation.
  • And while the definition of lobbyists would be broadened to include nonprofits, registration fees would be waived and the effective date would be pushed back until January 1, and only those “paid or otherwise compensated” would be required to register.