Former Rauner aide seen as black mark in lobbyist role
Rep. Stephanie Kifowit (D-Oswego) sees another broken promise by Gov. Bruce Rauner when she looks at Nancy Kimme.
“The governor promised to work against the revolving door of former staffers becoming lobbyists and instead turns around and does something else,” Kifowit told the Kendall County Times. “I think you need to make sure the fine line between lobbyists and elected officials is not crossed.”
Since leaving Rauner's office as a political aide and member of his transition team, and after more than 25 years in state government, the 55-year-old Kimme has largely become known as the state’s “go-to lobbyist” over the last two years.
The Prairie State Wire has reported that she has secured more than $16 billion in state contracts for 74 clients. State budget and lobbyist registration records also show that over the last 24 months her list of clients, ranging from software vendors to construction companies to social service providers and government agencies, have amassed nearly 2,900 state contracts, some of them with competing interests, such as hospitals and Medicaid-backed health insurance providers or businesses seeking regulatory relief and labor unions seeking more regulations.
It’s been reported that Sarah Clamp, Rauner’s former political director, is now a partner in one of Kimme's lobbying firms -- she has at least three. Aaron Winters, Rauner's former deputy chief of staff, has also joined her operations.
“Lobbyists have to disclose to clients the people they are working for,” Kifowit said. “I’m right out front in making sure I know who else they’re representing so there is no blurring or conflict. I think we have to strive for transparency and accountability, especially in the case of government business.”
Kifowit lamented that this is taking place on Rauner’s watch after he made ethics such a huge part of his platform.
“He needs to make sure that things are of the highest ethical standards,” she said. “I don’t have any lobbyists' expenditures, so that there are no unclear lines. I don’t think the governor should have any, either.”
Kimme also previously worked for the late Judy Topinka, the former state comptroller. Kimme faces a lawsuit filed by Topinka’s son alleging that Kimme wrote several unauthorized checks from Topinka's campaign account, including a $25,000 payment to herself, soon after Topinka's death.