In that first, clean-sweep phase after she was sworn into office last year, Mayor Lori Lightfoot got a unanimous vote for the first few measures of her ethics reform agenda.

This week there was another unanimous reform vote. But this time, Lightfoot was on the losing side. A proposal she first made in April, to dilute her new ban on lobbying the Chicago city government, went down in a 17-0 vote of the City Council’s Committee on Ethics and Governmental Oversight. 

That first unanimous vote was a no-brainer. Coming on the heels of the public corruption charge against Ald. Edward Burke, 14th, and Lightfoot’s sweep of 50 wards in 2019′s mayoral election, no one was surprised to see the council embrace reform.

As for this week’s vote, the only real surprise came in April. No one could have predicted Lightfoot would risk her reform credentials with an attempted technical fix to an absolute ban on lobbying Chicago government by all elected officials in Illinois.


David Greising is the president and chief executive of the Better Government Association, joining the BGA in 2018. For nearly a century, the BGA has fought for honest and effective government through investigative journalism and policy advocacy.

Greising’s career started at the City News Bureau of Chicago, with stops at the Chicago Sun-Times, Business Week magazine, the Chicago Tribune and Reuters. He was a co-founder of the Chicago News Cooperative and worked briefly as a consultant to World Business Chicago. Today, Greising writes on government issues in regular columns for the Tribune and Crain’s Chicago Business.

Under Greising’s leadership, the BGA has played a key role in uncovering public corruption amidst the wide-ranging federal probe, starting with an in-depth report about Ald. Ed Burke’s conflicts of interest before the federal charges against Burke. The BGA also has exposed waste and fraud at O’Hare and the proliferation of corruption and poverty into Dolton, Lyons and other Chicago suburbs. The BGA’s policy team has led calls for ethics reform in Chicago’s City Council and in state government.