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Open Book Opens the Book on Contracts and Contributions

By Kevin Robinson in News on Oct 24, 2007 7:00PM

2007_10_24.hynes.jpgBarely a week after Pat Quinn launched, urging citizens to sign on to a public letter to Governor Blagojevich calling for an end to pay-to-play politics, state comptroller Dan Hynes has launched his own website, Open Book, a searchable database of state contracts and campaign contributions.

Using the site is pretty simple: Just plug in the name of a contractor, and a list of contracts and contributions comes up. Take energy company Ameren, for example. Their PAC gave both Friends of Blagojevich and Friends of Emil Jones $15,000 in October of last year. That would be good to know if you wanted to connect the dots during the energy rate fight that happened earlier this year.

Unfortunately for Illinois taxpayers, it's not likely that websites like this will bring an end to pay-to-play anytime soon. House Bill 1, which would prohibit contractors doing more than $25,000 in business with the state from making campaign contributions, passed 116-0 in April, but it is stalled in the Senate, where Jones won't bring it to a vote. Blagojevich hasn't endorsed it anyway, saying he'd like a more "comprehensive" bill. He does like Hynes' website, though. “It’s good - good. I’m for it," he said at a press conference in Chicago, before dashing off without taking any questions.

Beatific Hynes photo from Friends of Dan Hynes.