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Sheila Simon: Net worth $586,709; paid $500 for banjo picking


Updated: January 20, 2011 6:10PM

SPRINGFIELD – Sheila Simon’s late father, U.S. Sen. Paul Simon, routinely made it a habit while lieutenant governor to disclose the most miniscule details about his personal finances, including how much his daughter made as a teen-age babysitter.

Now lieutenant governor herself, Sheila Simon is following her father’s path, releasing unusually detailed financial records Thursday that show her and her husband’s net worth and give an accounting of her income, all the way down to the $500 she made from gigs involving her bluegrass band.

Simon, whose net worth with husband Perry Knop stood at $586,709 as of last Nov. 30, said she wanted to enable voters to judge for themselves about any potential conflicts that may arise and to start a discussion about beefing up the antiquated, vague financial disclosure forms state officials must submit.

“When government is more open and straightforward, it’s a lot easier for everyone to work with the government,” she said.

Simon also issued an executive order for her office that bans campaign contributions from any state employees within the six statewide offices, along with banning the acceptance of food from lobbyists.

According to her “compiled statement of financial condition,” which was performed by a private accounting firm, the most valuable asset she and her husband own is her late parents’ home in Downstate Makanda. It was valued at $323,388.

Her home in Carbondale is valued at $102,624. She listed stocks and mutual funds worth $100,960 and “personal effects” amounting to $33,000.

Simon has no mortgages left, despite having $37,749 in credit card debt that she said is largely attributable to campaigning and being on leave from her law professor job at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale — a post that paid her $35,954 from January 1, 2010 to April 1, 2010.

Simon, who also reported receiving “approximately $500” from performances with her band, Loose Gravel, said she intends to release similar statements annually, along with her income-tax returns.

No one else in state government, including her running mate, Gov. Quinn, has opened up their personal finances to this extent.

“That’s not a distinction I wish to have for very long. I’d welcome any company along the way. I want to lead by example and inspire better government,” she said.

A spokeswoman for Quinn said the governor will continue to release his individual income tax returns but would not commit to providing the greater level of financial detail that Simon provided about her own finances.

David Morrison, deputy director for the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform, praised Simon’s disclosure and called it precedent-setting.

“I honestly can’t think of anyone who put out their checkbook to this extent,” he said.

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