Morrison: Lawmakers should wait two years before becoming lobbyists
State Rep. Tom Morrison (R-Palatine) is calling for regulation changes in Springfield after former lawmaker Lou Lang, a Democrat from Skokie, announced earlier this month that he was leaving the legislature to become a professional lobbyist.
“There should be a cooling-off period between when a person exits state government and when they begin lobbying efforts as a paid professional lobbyist,” Morrison told the North Cook News. “When I’m talking about a cooling-off period, I mean that is important; there should be a bipartisan effort to pass this. I’m not condemning Democratic legislators or former Democratic legislators, because I’m just as concerned about Republican legislators entering that same door.”
While Morrison stressed he is not pointing an accusatory finger toward anyone, he added that it is just as important that lawmakers take every step available to them to alleviate any look of improprieties.
“I want that to be clear; I’m not saying that if someone enters professional lobbying they are unethical,” he said. “But it would be better if there were a cooling-off period. If there were a two-year separation, it would be less tempting to cross the ethical line. The thing is, someone’s vote could set up a position as a paid, professional lobbyist. I think ethical lines would be clearer if there were a cooling-off period."
After three decades in Springfield Lang, a longtime ally of powerful House Speaker Mike Madigan (D-Chicago) who ascended all the way to the position of deputy majority leader, has already joined the lobbying firm Advantage Government Strategies headed by former Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka's chief of staff, Nancy Kimme.
His resignation came just over two months after voters elected him to another term and roughly half a year after he was forced to step down from his position of leadership after being slapped with allegations of sexual harassment by activist Maryann Loncar.
In staging his exit now, Lang effectively gets to choose his own successor after running unopposed in November’s midterm elections.
“He should recuse himself,” Morrison said. “In the absence of an imposed cooling-off period, he should recuse himself from assigning his successor. He could recuse himself just like when certain bills come up on the floor for vote and a lawmaker will stand up and say, ‘I’m not going to vote on this because I have a conflict of interest.’ Rep. Lang should apply the same standard to himself.”