The first reading of a potential new conflicts of interest ordinance left Naperville City Council divided.
The proposed rule would require council members who have received campaign contributions of more than $500 from a donor to publicly disclose that when discussing an agenda item in which the donor is an interested party.
“Conflict of interest is up to us, we decide,” said Councilwoman Theresa Sullivan, who initiated the discussion on this ordinance at the September 1 meeting. “We’re the own judges of our own conflicts of interest. I think the transparency allows for us to make our own decision, but also for the public to have the same data we do.”
Mandatory Recusal Turned Away
Though one option was to require the council member to then recuse himself or herself, that saw little support.
Still, several council members pushed back on what they called “a solution searching for a problem.”
“The conflict of interest is set up to require people to disclose or recuse when they have a financial interest,” said Mayor Steve Chirico. “And a campaign contribution does not benefit the individual. It benefits the candidate and it benefits the community. It’s part of running a campaign and an election and having a free and fair election is a benefit to the community.”
There have been multiple discussions in recent years at council on what constitutes a conflict of interest and when it is appropriate to recuse.
Making Campaign Contributions Easier to Find
Most of the group agreed that linking council members’ profiles on the city website to a list of their campaign contributions would be helpful.
The proposed ordinance will return to council for a second reading and vote on December 15.
Naperville News 17’s Casey Krajewski reports.
You can look up campaign contributions for any elected public official with the Illinois State Board of Elections.
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