Jesse White (politician)


Jesse White (politician) : biography

June 23, 1934 –

White has improved customer services through streamlined operations and the innovative use of technology. This has resulted in shorter than ever wait times at driver licensing facilities as more customers take advantage of new, technology-based transactions that the office has developed to better serve the public. Over the last few years, Internet transactions with the office have increased by over 78 percent. In 2006, Internet transactions accounted for over $41 million. In 2008, these transactions accounted for over $73 million.

White continues to serve as an advocate for organ and tissue donation. He initiated legislation creating the First Person Consent Organ/Tissue Donor Registry, which makes a person’s decision to donate legally binding. Since 2006, more than 5 million people have signed up for the registry.

In 1999, White inherited an office under a cloud of corruption from George H. Ryan. White immediately pledged to restore integrity and eliminate all forms of institutionalized corruption and wrongdoing. Some key efforts included: establishing a code of conduct for employees; setting strict fundraising policies that prohibit employee contributions; hiring Jim Burns, former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, as Inspector General and strengthened the Inspector General’s office; and initiated legislation to make the position of Inspector General permanent with broad powers to root out corruption.

The Secretary of State’s office administers library grants throughout the state. In 2010, White re-directed federal funds from the Illinois State Library so that local libraries throughout Illinois could maintain a revenue flow from the state despite the state’s fiscal crisis.

Senate appointment of Roland Burris

In January 2009, White gained national attention for his decision to not certify Roland Burris’s nomination to the United States Senate following corruption charges against former Illinois Governor, Rod Blagojevich. White steadfastly refused to co-sign a certificate of appointment for any appointee named by the governor, a governor that was arrested in part for trying to sell this very same senate seat. Burris then filed a lawsuit against White with the Illinois Supreme Court to compel him to certify the appointment as part of his routine administrative duties.

On January 9, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that White did not have to sign his name to any appointment made by Governor Rod Blagojevich. The Court further ruled that White had fulfilled his legal obligations regarding the appointment of Burris to the U.S. Senate by registering the appointment in accordance with state law. The document registered did not include White’s signature or the State Seal. On January 12, the U.S. Senate officially seated Burris as Illinois’ junior senator.