Emotional warnings that corruption is rampant across Illinois filled the air Thursday as Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn's new reform commission launched a 100-day search for ways to improve ethics in the state.
"The pay-to-play schemes were far deeper, wider, broader and much more evil than I had ever suspected," a former whistleblower said.
Commission member Lawrence Oliver, a former federal prosecutor who is now the chief of investigations at Boeing Corp., said he's "sickened" and "embarrassed" by the level of corruption in state government.
Quinn launched Illinois Reform Commission in hopes it will produce a program to combat the wave of corruption that has made Illinois a national joke.
The 15 member Commission is chaired by former George Ryan prosecutor Patrick Collins, and includes among its members, State's Attorney Anita Alvarez, law professor Sheila Simon (the daughter of the late Sen. Paul Simon) and Rev. Scott Willis, whose six children died in a fiery crash caused by a driver with a license purchased in the scandal-plagued office of then-Secretary of State George Ryan.
Thursday's hearing included testimony from Quinn, Steve Rauschenberger, a former State Senator, Patrick Beaird, a state employee from Springfield, and Dan Hynes, the Illinois Comptroller.
The reform group is operating on an accellerated timetable. The hearings are open to the public and members have been told to produce an initial set of reccomendations 100 days from now.
More on the commission, its members, and its stated goals, at www.reformillinoisnow.com.