Chicago Tribune: When interests overlap for Durbin, lobbyist wife

Katherine Skiba and Kim Geiger
Oct 5, 2014
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Meredith McGehee, policy director at the Campaign Legal Center and an expert on ethics in lobbying, said the Durbins' arrangement deserved a thorough airing.

"If you're going to become a lobbyist, part of the deal is, everything you do is going to be gone over with a very bright light, and it should be," she said. "So I don't think there's anything inherently wrong, but it is inherently worth very close scrutiny, and the burden really should be on them to show that there aren't conflicts." ...

Ethics expert McGehee said spouses of lawmakers have a clear advantage as lobbyists because of their close ties to power. "I would assume that everybody and their brother in Illinois knows who her husband is," McGehee said of Durbin. "And that gives her, certainly, in some situations, that obviously gives her a leg up." ...

McGehee, the lobbying ethics expert, gave the Durbins credit for discussing potential conflicts:

"Often, they don't even think about it because they're so convinced of their own good motivations. I see this a lot with politicians. It doesn't even occur to them. … It's just that somebody else looks at it and says, wait a minute, your wife's a lobbyist. But it's to his credit that he was willing to sit down and go through this as opposed to saying there's no story there and just close the door."

To read the full article in the Chicago Tribune, click here.

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