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Illinois Legislators Go On Free Vacation

By Margaret Lyons in News on Oct 20, 2004 1:45PM

2004_10_20.legis.jpgChicagoist needs a tropical vacation, and bad. It's been so dank the last few days that the only way to combat our sniffles is to spend several days under the warm, delicious sun, drinking margaritas, and playing Marco Polo. Drunk Marco Polo. Just kidding, water safety is really important. Too bad we're not part of the Illinois legislature's Latino caucus, cause if we were, we'd be freshly back from a vacation to Puerto Rico, paid for by lobbyists and large companies with local interests. Marco!

What's that you say? Isn't it illegal for government officials to receive large gifts from lobbyists? Couldn't you swear there's a law about that? Yeh, no joke.

Under the state ethics law passed late last year, legislators and state officials generally are barred from taking large gifts from lobbyists. For example, they can't accept food and drink costing more than $75 a day.

However, Illinois law for years has allowed lawmakers to accept unlimited amounts of money from lobbyists for "educational missions." The 2003 law left the task of defining what constitutes an educational mission to a new Legislative Ethics Commission, which hasn't yet issued rules.

Co-chair of the caucus, State Rep. Edward Acevedo, said they did a lot of work setting their agenda and prepping for the veto section. No word on how much he worked on his tan, forehand, drive, or back float. BTW, Chicagoist used to teach swimming, so if any Illinois legislators out there need a refresher on the elementary backstroke, we can travel to Puerto Rico on the corporate dime nooo problem. Polo!

2004_10_20.sanjuan.jpgSponsors of the trip include Harrah's casinos, SBC Illinois, Commonwealth Edison, Balmoral Race Track, Illinois Realtors Association, Midwest Generation LLC, all of which donated between $3,000 and $10,000 to fund the vaycay. Legislators stayed San Juan at the Caribe Hilton for this, their third annual retreat. They've also "set their agenda" in Guadalajara, Mexico, and Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. Hey, guys—we live right here in lovely, scenic Illinois! You guys are too good to Enjoy Illinois, Mile After Magnificent Mile? Excuse us while we check our Illinois Fall Colors Update. Ahem, back to the sass at hand.

Look, we'll take the controversial anti-corruption stance on this one, but for goodness sake. This is getting tired. Now quit peeking—we're playing Marco Polo for real now, OK?