House passes bill to keep officeholders’ names off billboards
By Dave McKinney Sun-Times Springfield Bureau Chief firstname.lastname@example.org May 6, 2011 12:48PM
Rod Blagojevich was criticized for spending $480,000 in state funds on signs bearing his name. | Richard A. Chapman ~ Sun-Times
Updated: August 20, 2011 12:31AM
SPRINGFIELD—Vote-hungry state officeholders would not be able to put their names or images on billboards that hype taxpayer-funded programs under legislation that passed the Illinois House Friday.
The expansion of state ethics law, which was approved 91-19 with three members voting present, now heads to Gov. Quinn.
“Perhaps the best illustration—or some would say the worst illustration—of what this would do is prohibit what Gov. Blagojevich did by putting his name on a bunch of signs with completion of open-road tolling,” said Rep. Chris Nybo (R-Elmhurst), the bill’s chief House sponsor.
Nybo’s bill would bar statewide officeholders and legislators from using state funds to place their name, image or voice on any billboards or electronic message boards touting any state-administered program.
Blagojevich faced criticism for spending $480,000 in state funds on 32 signs bearing his name along heavily traveled toll roads to tout the launch of the I-PASS system.
The erection of those signs came in the midst of his 2006 re-election campaign and essentially amounted to free political advertising for the impeached ex-governor.
The House passed similar legislation in 2007 and 2008 while Blagojevich was in office, but both times it wound up languishing in the Senate, which was controlled at the time by Blagojevich ally, former Senate President Emil Jones (D-Chicago).
The latest try passed Friday despite opposition from African-American lawmakers from Chicago, who accused Nybo of political grandstanding.