- Associated Press - Thursday, October 20, 2016

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Illinois state senators from different parties have introduced legislation that would ban state agency directors and other high-level gubernatorial appointees from campaigning for political candidates.

The proposal wouldn’t put new restrictions on officials’ financial donations to campaigns but would bar them from appearing in commercials or participating in political events. It was modeled after the federal Hatch Act, a 1939 law that limits the political activities of federal employees, and similar laws exist in 43 other states.

Democratic state Sen. Andy Manar and Republican state Sen. Sam McCann announced the proposal Wednesday, saying it’s an important expansion of Illinois’ ethics laws.

“I’m of the opinion that agency directors should not spend their time campaigning,” Manar said. “They should spend their time managing the agencies that they have been entrusted to run and to manage when the Senate confirmed their appointments.”

He said the measure is similar to restrictions at the federal level and in other states.

The lawmakers said the issue isn’t about any one party or election but that they decided to push for the change after various cabinet members named by Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner recently appeared in campaign materials on behalf of GOP candidates.

“This is good government,” McCann said. “This is what we should do regardless of who’s in control.”

A spokeswoman for Rauner said the governor “welcomes any discussion to reform our political process.”

Opposing the idea was Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno, who said in a statement, “If we are to consider legislation to ensure ‘accountability to the taxpayers,’ we should consider the same restrictions be placed on taxpayer-paid appointees to boards and commissions, term limits and redistricting reform.”

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