Taxpayers Paying to Pay More in Taxes

Inadequacies in Disclosure Requirements for Taxpayer-Funded Lobbying in Illinois

Taxpayer-funded lobbying in Illinois is on the rise. Units of local Illinois government, from cities and townships to school boards and park districts, use taxpayer money to send lobbyists to the Illinois General Assembly to support and oppose legislation. Current lobbying disclosure requirements in Illinois exempt government units from many of the reporting requirements placed on private lobbying groups. Put simply, taxpayers in Illinois are funding political lobbying efforts with limited knowledge of what their money is being used to accomplish, and the ways of gaining access to that information are often complex. This Note explores the concept of taxpayer-funded lobbying, provides an overview of the practice in Illinois, and examines the current disclosure requirements in Illinois. It then analyzes the problem of competing interests between units of local government that contract for lobbying services and the taxpayers who fund such efforts as well as how the deficiencies in current reporting requirements exacerbate it. Finally, this Note argues that increased lobbying disclosure requirements should be implemented for units of local Illinois government and provides several possible solutions.

The full text of this Note is available to download as a PDF.