Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn on Friday signed legislation that terminates the appointments of current state pension fund board members and allows the governor to name replacements who will face tougher ethics rules.
The Teachers Retirement System has specifically come under fire in pay-to-play charges leveled by the federal government in its Operation Board Games probe of state corruption in the administration of Rod Blagojevich. The former governor and five associates were charged in a 19-count corruption indictment last week that included allegations that kickbacks were sought from firms seeking investment business with the fund.
Along with the teachers system, the pension funds involved are the State Universities Retirement System, the State Employees Retirement System, and the Illinois State Board of Investment. The proposal to reconstitute the boards was proposed by House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton, both Chicago Democrats.
A commission created by Quinn earlier this year urged sweeping reforms, including campaign contribution limits to individuals running for a state office, but no legislation has been introduced.