Cooperatives can be formed to support producers such as farmers, purchasers such as independent business owners, and consumers such as electric coops and credit unions. Their primary purpose is to meet members’ needs through affordable goods and services of high quality.
Cooperatives such as credit unions may look like other businesses in their operations and, like other businesses, can range in size. However, the cooperative structure is distinctively different regardless of size. As not-for-profit financial cooperatives, credit unions serve individuals with a common goal or interest.
They are owned and democratically controlled by the people who use their services. Their board of directors consists of unpaid volunteers, elected by and from the membership. Members are owners who pool funds to help other members. After expenses and reserve requirements are met, net revenue is returned to members via lower loan and higher savings rates, lower costs and fees for services.
It is the structure of credit unions, not their size or range of services that is the reason for their tax exempt status - and the reason why almost three million Illinois residents are among 95 million Americans who count on their local credit union everyday to reach their financial goals.
* Despite the fact that pretty much every poll I’ve seen for weeks has had the Judy Biggert vs. Bill Foster race as a dead heat, the campaign hasn’t really generated the same intensity of media coverage that the Joe Walsh vs. Tammy Duckworth or Bob Dold vs. Brad Schneider campaigns.
I have to figure that since both candidates are pretty vanilla and moderate, they’re just not “good TV” like Walsh/Duckworth. And Dold and Schneider look positively charismatic when compared to Biggert and Foster. Also, Biggert has until recently kept a pretty low media profile, unlike the other candidates, which tends to tamp down coverage as a whole.
So, let’s put on our thinking caps, shall we?
* The Question: What could Judy Biggert and Bill Foster do in the final week to gin up coverage of their campaign?
Snark is highly encouraged, of course. Have fun, but keep it clean, please.
Also, sorry that I posted this so late in the day.
Debt sold by Illinois issuers is rallying the most in 20 months in the face of a warning that the state’s pensions may run out of money and drain funding from education, infrastructure and local aid.
Investors seeking to enhance returns amid the lowest municipal interest rates in a generation shrank the extra yield on bonds of Illinois and its localities to 1.43 percentage points last week, the least since February 2011, data compiled by Bloomberg show.
Debt-holders in the lowest-rated U.S. state by Moody’s Investors Service are willing to take the risk because of their confidence in getting repaid. Illinois is one of seven states with the strongest legal provisions for paying debt service on its general obligations, according to Fidelity Investments. The yield spread relative to AAA tax-exempts is still the highest among 19 states tracked by Bloomberg. […]
Some investors still can’t get enough Illinois bonds “because they’re cheap, and the risk of non-payment is miniscule,” said Matt Fabian, a managing director at Concord, Massachusetts-based research firm Municipal Market Advisors.
The state has also had some cause for fiscal cheer. Its revenue has grown 2.9 percent in the fiscal year that started July 1, beating the state’s 1.8 percent estimate, according to MMA.
* I’ll have links a bit later, but the Democratic district drawn to reelect Congressman Jerry Costello (who then decided to retire) appears to be finally doing its job for Democratic candidate Bill Enyart. We Ask America has Enyart ahead of Jason Plummer for the first time this year.
I’m told that We Ask America now has Enyart up by five points, 51-46, with Green Party candidate Paula Bradshaw getting less than 4 percent. The poll was taken October 28th.
Illinois 12 encompasses a large part of southwest Illinois and has elected conservative Democrats since the original lungfish crawled out of the ocean. Still, Barack Obama is not particularly popular here, and Republican candidate Jason Plummer hoped to be able to parlay his family’s well-know lumber business and 6-foot 8-inch frame into a winning effort. Many thought he was well on his way, but a series of post-primary moves by the Democrats have put Plummer on an uphill climb against his main competitor, former Adjutant General Bill Enyart.
Poll type: Automated Date: October 28, 2012 - Participants: 1,313 Likely Voters - Margin of Error: ± 2.7%
* Meanwhile, back in early October, We Ask America had Tammy Duckworth leading incumbent Republican Joe Walsh by six points, 50-44. But then, after President Obama’s disastrous debate performance had sunk in, We Ask America showed Walsh with a slight lead.
Since then, Walsh has made one mistake after another and Duckworth has gone super negative against him and the natural Democratic advantage in that district has really kicked in. As a result, Walsh began falling way behind in We Ask America’s tracking last week and he’s now at a more than 9-point disadvantage, rounded at 54-46. The poll was taken October 28th.
That gives us a whole lot of polls in a row now which have Duckworth above 50 and Walsh trailing by tenish.
While Duckworth hasn’t proven to be a great candidate, she has a distinct advantage in this re-drawn district by running against a guy who seems to enjoy being a lightning rod for controversy. Walsh surprised many by keeping this race competitive as long as he did, but Duckworth’s campaign has taken advantage of Walsh’s without-exception pro-life views while whacking him for not paying child support. That one-two punch seems to have pushed Walsh over the edge where he now may be in a free fall:
* We Ask America also has Republican Rodney Davis up by 5 over Democrat David Gill, 50-45, with five for the independent.
While IL-13 leans slightly Democratic, the core of this newly configured district has chosen the opponent of Democrat David Gill in the last three congressional elections. It’s difficult to overcome that record, and Gill’s platform may prove to be a bit further to the left than the downstate area can accept. Republican Rodney Davis came into the race late and had to claw and scratch his way into the name recognition game, but it appears to be working. He recently received the endorsements of three top area newspapers which didn’t hurt matters.
Poll type: Automated Date: October 28, 2012 - Participants: 1,360 Likely Voters - Margin of Error: ± 2.7%
* Congresswoman Judy Biggert and former Congressman Bill Foster are tied.
The new 11th District leans slightly Democratic and is not a great fit for either candidate here. Foster was a one-term congressman who was defeated in 2010, while Biggert has has a long career in both the Illinois General Assembly and Congress. Neither are particularly strong campaigners, but each have lots of campaign and outside money flowing. Foster’s vote for Obamacare has not been universally accepted in this area, and Biggert’s long career made it easy for her opponent to cherry pick past votes that could be splashed in direct mail and on TV. Like other area Democrats, Foster’s campaign has tried to paint pro-choice Biggert as an extremist. Unlike IL-10, though, much of the 11th District is new to both candidates.
Poll type: Automated Date: October 28, 2012 - Participants: 1,303 Likely Voters - Margin of Error: ± 2.7%
* Freshman Republican Bobby Schilling leads Cheri Bustos 52-48, but the firm has had Bustos slightly ahead in other recent polls, so they’re calling this a draw for now.
We consider this one a dead heat. Schilling and Bustos change leads every other poll (we’ve done several there in the past 14 days, the last one had Bustos up by nearly 3 points) and it’s averages out as a simple 50-50 split. While heavily Democratic, this area has a blue-collar and somewhat conservative lean to it. Incumbent Congressman Schilling fills the “one-of-us” role well as a pizza restaurant owner who is both unpretentious and affable. But Schilling leans farther to the right than the district as a whole. Still, he’s found a strident-free way of communicating with constituents. Bustos, who was previously a news reporter and East Moline alderwoman, came to the race as a camera-ready fresh face with a solid political pedigree that hasn’t disappointed although her stance on issues remains a tad nebulous. Both work hard and both leave favorable impressions.
Poll type: Automated Date: October 28, 2012 - Participants: 1,325 Likely Voters - Margin of Error: ± 2.8%
* And Bob Dold appears to be doing quite well, with a 54-46 lead over Brad Schneider. That district is tough to poll, however.
This affluent congressional district has always been one to ignore Party labels. Challenger Schneider’s campaign never seemed to understand that and is trying to portray pro-choice Bob Dold as a right-wing nut to a very well-informed electorate. While missing that target, Schneider has also stumbled a bit about the reality of his business experience. Questions about his resumé are being tied into his refusal to release his income tax records. Still, this district is strongly pro-Obama enough that Dold finds it hard to pull away outside of the margin of error:
Poll type: Automated Date: October 28, 2012 - Participants: 1,257 Likely Voters - Margin of Error: ± 2.8%
* Schilling’s ‘Democrat’ newsletter angers Bustos: Rep. Bobby Schilling, R-Ill., is promoting his candidacy with a newsletter titled “The Illinois Democrat,” a piece that’s angered his rival, Democrat Cheri Bustos. The Bustos campaign complained about the mail piece Friday afternoon, arguing it’s an attempt to deceive voters. Schilling’s campaign countered, saying it’s merely an effort to reach out to Democrats with whom the congressman has much in common.
Gov. Pat Quinn has won the latest round in his bid to close two state prisons and a handful of other facilities, but the legal wrangling over his controversial move will keep them open for now.
An arbitrator ruled Friday that the state had acted reasonably when it began taking steps to close the Tamms Correctional Center, the all-female prison in Dwight, a youth lock-up in Murphysboro and halfway houses in Decatur and Carbondale. […]
In response to the decision, the Quinn administration Monday asked a Cook County judge to lift an order that has kept the prisons open two months longer than the governor had originally.
The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees responded to the decision on Monday by asking a judge in Alexander County to keep in place the injunction preventing the closures. The union also asked the court to vacate Bierig’s decision.
Notice how the union is using a judge from a tiny county in southern Illinois which houses the Tamms super max. That judge knows what’ll happen if he rules against the union. Not saying he’s biased. Just saying.
Independent expenditures in state legislative races are closing in on the $2 million mark since July 1st, with most of that spending coming in the month of October, Illinois State Board of Elections records show.
Last March, a federal judge struck down Illinois’ law capping contributions to so-called state super PACs. Since then, according to the State Board of Elections’ website, $1.8 million has been spent by groups on Illinois campaigns, and as of late last week, $1.3 million of that has been spent in the month of October alone.
Super PAC money is expected to increase exponentially in 2014, when gubernatorial and other statewide candidates are up for bid. So far, just eleven independent expenditure committees have been formed, but more will surely be formed after this cycle ends.
Some of the top spenders have familiar names. The pro-choice Personal PAC, the Jobs PAC, formed by the Illinois Manufacturers Association, and the National Association of Realtors have all spent big bucks this month backing or opposing various candidates.
A new super PAC called Liberty Principles PAC, formed by Republican activist Dan Proft, has reported spending $78K this past week, with more on the way. The group’s ads are targeting Senate and House candidates in the same districts. So, for instance, they’re running a TV ad blasting Sen. Mike Jacobs and Rep. Pat Verschoore (D-Milan) at the same time, as well as Rep. Elaine Nekritz (D-Northbrook) and Democratic Senate candidate Julie Morrison (D-Deerfield).
Personal PAC has so far been one of the biggest players in the Illinois super PAC arms race. Its parent organization is a pro-choice behemoth which has long wielded major influence in Illinois politics. The group plays hardball. If a candidate refuses to fill out its questionnaire, which often happens with moderates in the middle or those who lean pro-life, Personal PAC labels the candidate pro-life without exception. And then the direct mail and the TV ads start to fly. It’s never a pretty sight, unless you like this sort of thing.
As of late last week, Personal PAC has reported spending over $330,000 on independent expenditures. But they have plenty more cash available. The group ended the third quarter with almost $290,000 in the bank. Since the end of September, the group has raised about $400,000, half of that from two people.
According to the State Board of Elections’ website, Personal PAC is the only super PAC which has spent more than $100,000 on a single race. Gov. Pat Quinn signed a bill into law this year which removes all contribution caps once a super PAC crosses that $100,000 threshold. So far, only Personal PAC has done so with its $159K against Republican state Senate candidate Joe Neal of northern Lake County.
In comparison, the only “pro-life” super PAC registered with the state has spent just $1,500 so far this month. The Pro-Life Victory Committee is backing a Republican state Senate candidate in the Quad Cities area. When it comes to the abortion issue, nobody has ever come close to Personal PAC’s dominance.
The Jobs PAC, formed by the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association, has outspent Personal PAC so far, dumping over $400,000 into races just this month, according to State Board of Elections records. About half of that spending occurred just last week, with big bucks for and against five state Senate candidates. Most of the candidates the group is backing are Republicans, but they’ve spent a considerable amount of money to help state Sen. Mike Jacobs (D-East Moline).
The National Association of Realtors has a super PAC which has spent almost $200,000 this month. The group is focusing on four state legislative races, with its biggest spending, $50,000, coming on behalf of state Rep. Skip Saviano (R-Elmwood Park). Saviano is in the fight of his political life right now against a heavily funded Democratic opponent.
Super PACs are a relatively new phenomenon in Illinois politics. They haven’t yet dominated campaigns like they’re doing at the federal level, where their spending is dwarfing congressional candidates’ own cash. But like with any new political invention, you can bet that this cash will increase in the coming years. A few years ago, hardly anyone received robocalls. Now, everybody in a contested district is being flooded with them. It’s the way of the beast.
The one difference between state and federal law is that state law kills off the caps as soon as somebody spends $100,000. That law allows people to defend themselves. As this roundup of independent expenditures from Illinois Review shows, federal candidates ain’t so lucky. Independent expenditures so far have topped $30 million…
* 17th - Schilling vs Bustos – $7.3 million
* 11th - Biggert vs Foster – $5.5 million
* 13th - Davis vs Gill – $5 million
* 12th - Plummer vs Enyart – $5 million
* 10th - Dold vs. Schneider – $4.4 million
* 8th - Walsh vs Duckworth – $3.5 million
* The Southern Illinoisan has declared that “coal” is the number one issue in the 12th Congressional District race, and so it endorsed Jason Plummer…
Coal is the biggest issue in the vote for the 12th Congressional District and Plummer is the most aggressive in promoting the potential for Southern Illinois coal.
An industry that employs 4,400 people in a region that’s thousands of square miles is the number one campaign issue?
* The paper’s editorial board believes that Plummer will grow in office…
Plummer gets the nod over Enyart, even though the former general might initially be a more influential voice for the district because of his depth of experience and military connections. The latter would serve the district well in charting a sustained future for Scott Air Force Base. But Plummer is no stranger to Scott; it is the base he serves as a Naval Reserve officer. And his tenacity and tireless nature as a campaigner are characteristics likely to carry over into congress, serving constituents and transforming the freshman congressman into an eventual leader.
It also is worth noting that with the near-certain re-election of Republican U.S. Rep. John Shimkus to the 19th Congressional District, the region would be represented consistently by GOP congressmen. Teamwork will aid the district and it is more easily achieved by members of the same political party.
Mr. Plummer shows energy, enthusiasm and a passion for becoming the district’s next U.S. representative. He has studied the material, traveled the district and become conversant on the talking points he needs to sound like a serious candidate.
Strip away that veneer, however, and you come away with a paint-by-numbers conservative who signed the anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist “no tax increase” pledge. Mr. Plummer’s protest that he signed it only after his competitor had accused him of signing isn’t much of an explanation. Having run for lieutenant governor just two years ago, he remains more conversant with state issues than national.
* Meanwhile, a press release from the Duckworth campaign has some interesting news…
Congressional Franking rules prohibit 500 or more pieces of mail to be sent at a time by a Member of Congress within 90 days of an election. There have been at least 10 unique glossy-mailers from Congressman Walsh’s Congressional office sent between August 10th and October 10th of this year. Of note is the fact that he is only sending these mailers to his constituents who are eligible to vote in the new 8th Congressional district. Walsh is clearly using taxpayer dollars to target potential voters instead of focusing on constituent services.
* Tea Party Polls: Allen West, Joe Walsh Among Incumbents In Trouble, PPP Data Finds
* 8th incumbent Walsh sees himself as ‘average Joe’: His own research, Walsh says, has changed his mind on social issues since his 1996 campaign against 13-term 9th District Democratic incumbent Sidney Yates. In that unsuccessful run, as well as in his 1998 bid for Illinois House, Walsh presented himself as supporting abortion rights, gun control and gay rights and against prayer in public schools. Walsh said he arrived at his “pro-life without exception” stance — even in the cases of rape or incest or to save the life of the mother — after years of thought and research.
* VIDEO: Peter Roskam and Joe Walsh speak to volunteers in Addison Illinois 27 Oct 2012
Illinois is facing a crisis in education funding and the currently proposed state budget would leave a $200 million shortfall for Illinois schools, exacerbating an ongoing trend of school underfunding in our state. In fact, a 2010 research report conducted by the National Education Association found that Illinois ranks last among U.S. states in percentage of revenue for public K-12 schools from state governments. Further, the Education Law Center gave Illinois a “D” on its 2010 School Funding Fairness National Report Card.
Fortunately, the Illinois Senate identified a solution to bring more funding to our schools and protect Illinois students. In June, the Senate passed an amendment to HB 5440 that generates $75 million in revenue for the state’s education fund. This new revenue would directly support students by providing general state aid for local schools, early childhood education, and the Monetary Assistance Program for Illinois college students.
HB 5440 will fill a significant portion of the education gap, helping avert large budget cuts that would impact Illinois students and educators.
We urge members of the House to vote YES on HB 5440 and close the education gap for Illinois students.
According to Federal Election Committee reports, Congressional candidate Jason Plummer is evading payroll taxes and shifting Medicare and Social Security tax burden onto his employees. Plummer is intentionally misclassifying his campaign employees as independent contractors to skirt payroll taxes – a loophole forbidden by the IRS.
Major General (retired) Bill Enyart and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 649 Official Alan Rubenstein today slammed Plummer for evading payroll taxes in his campaign and for looking out for himself at the expense of Southern Illinois workers and middle class families.
Enyart shared his background as a UAW member working the line at Caterpillar with his father as a young man. He criticized Plummer for trying to cheat workers by evading payroll taxes in his campaign and running on a platform that rewards millionaires, but puts good jobs and the future of Southern Illinois for regular working people at risk.
Enyart said: “In direct violation of the law, my millionaire opponent is paying no payroll taxes on his campaign. Instead he’s misclassifying his workers, forcing them to pay the full tax burden while he pays nothing at all in payroll taxes. This is only a preview of what Mr. Plummer would do in Washington. He will shift the burden onto the middle class by raising taxes on regular working people, but giving himself a new tax break.”
* There has been some dispute in other races about whether this is legal. But others have done it. For instance, this is from 2010…
Almost across the board in major races for governor, U.S. senator and Congress, Democratic candidates have put their campaign workers — at least some of them — on the payroll and have been paying FICA and other taxes on them.
But not Republicans. Though some now say they’re changing, they’ve followed a different approach, treating all of their campaign managers, press aides and the like as independent contractors, which makes the individual and not the “employer” responsible for any tax liability. […]
In the race for Illinois governor, during the last six months of 2009 — the latest for which figures are available — Mr. Quinn’s campaign reported paying $52,000 to the IRS and another $5,200 to the Illinois Department of Revenue for payroll taxes. That’s money Mr. Quinn surely could have used for other purposes, like TV ads.
The GOP nominee, state Sen. Bill Brady, reported no such payments. Which means that folks who made as much as $12,500 in the last half of the year worked for his campaign on “consulting” or “contractual services,” as Mr. Brady’s state disclosure put it.
* By the way, Enyart’s press release contains another “revelation”…
[International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 649 Official Alan Rubenstein] was part of a group of local workers who questioned Plummer’s business practice of personally profiting by undercutting a living wage for his employees. He also slammed Plummer for refusing to listen to Southern Illinois workers without an endorsement.
“Jason Plummer is a millionaire who has been taking advantage of the tough economy by undercutting labor and middle class and working people. Mr. Plummer personally profits by keeping wages low and if he had his way, they’d be so low no one could support their families and earn a decent, honest living.
“Mr. Plummer had the nerve to tell me that he’d only listen to Southern Illinois workers if we endorsed him. Well that’s not how honest people do business.”
Democratic and Republican volunteers spent the day passing out pamphlets and putting up signs. With less than two weeks until Election Day, the Champaign County Republicans and Democrats are doing what they can to get voters to the polls, even if it means a lot of walking.
“You can call, you can email, but it’s still not as effective as someone coming up to you and giving you that literature,” said Shana Harrison. She’s president of College Democrats.
“There’s a lot of walking involved. That’s the greatest way that you have a chance to connect with voters and get them to actually go,” said Harrison.
* The Question: What’s your favorite precinct walking story?
* This week, Congresswoman Judy Biggert was asked about her vote for the Paul Ryan budget plan, which Democrats have decried as a radical proposal that would “end Medicare as we know it.” Biggert has always campaigned as a moderate, so this Ryan vote was somewhat out of character for her. Her explanation…
“The Ryan budget is right because it’s a plan. It’s on the table. And let’s, let’s, we have to move ahead, we can’t just sit there and keep on the spending.”
Pro Same-Sex-Marriage PAC Backs Candidate Who Equates Gay Marriage With Bigamy, Polygamy
American Unity PAC, a Republican super PAC aimed at expanding support for same-sex marriage, was announced with great fanfare in June. But it may not be living up to the hype: one of the congressional candidates it’s supporting with hundreds of thousands in TV ads is not only publicly opposed to same-sex marriage, she also just equated the practice with polygamy and bigamy.
Rep. Judy Biggert (R-IL) may not be what the establishment who fawned over American Unity PAC had in mind when the group was announced.
At a press conference after a debate Wednesday night, Biggert explained that she’s “close” to supporting same-sex marriage rights, but is “not there yet.” Then she said the issue is best left to the states, equating same-sex marriage laws with the universally-accepted illegal acts of bigamy and polygamy.
“It is a state issue,” Biggert said. “We don’t have polygamy and bigamy and all of these things in the federal government. It’s the states that take care of that.”
Biggert didn’t “equate” the two issues. Marriage, in all its forms, has historically been regulated by the states. Moderate Republicans have in the past several years opposed federal bans on gay marriage. This isn’t exactly new stuff. It’s only in relatively recent history that a push has been made for a federal law to allow gay marriage at the state level. Biggert says she’s moving in that direction, but is not there yet.
* In other news, Charlie Cook has moved this race from “Tossup” to “Lean Democrat.”
* The FreedomWorks super PAC is reportedly spending $1.5 million on TV ads against Tammy Duckworth starting Monday, so this poll has to give the Duckworth campaign some peace of mind…
With less than two weeks until the election, Duckworth had the backing of 50 percent to 40 percent for Walsh, the controversial tea party-backed incumbent. An additional 9 percent were undecided, which is significant this close to the Nov. 6 balloting, particularly for a highly visible contest that has been combative for months. […]
Independents are a key swing bloc of voters who often decide elections, and the poll found they make up more than a third of people casting ballots in the new district, which takes in northwest suburban Cook and eastern DuPage counties. Duckworth, a disabled Iraq War veteran making her second try for Congress, holds a 48 percent to 37 percent advantage over Walsh among independent voters. […]
Then there’s that gender gap. Among women, Duckworth scored 54 percent support to Walsh’s 34 percent. At the same time, the bravado Walsh often displays in decrying political correctness hasn’t earned him any advantage among men. While the Republican has a 46 percent to 45 percent advantage over Duckworth among male voters, it is statistically insignificant.
Another obstacle for Walsh is widespread discontent with federal lawmakers, particularly Republicans. Only 12 percent of the district’s voters approve of the job Congress is doing; 77 percent disapprove. Moreover, 69 percent of the district’s voters disapprove of how Republicans in Congress are handling their jobs. When asked whether Republicans or Democrats in Washington, including President Barack Obama, were to blame for gridlock, 41 percent cited the GOP compared with 26 percent who cited Democrats.
That’s two recent polls with big Duckworth leads. It’s a trend and she’s likely stopped the bleeding.
The cable industry is asking lawmakers to place a NEW 5% tax on satellite TV service. HB 5440 is not about fairness, equity or parity – it’s a tax increase on the 1.3 million Illinois families and businesses who subscribe to satellite TV. They cannot afford another NEW tax – not now and not in this economy!
HB 5440 Will Hurt Illinois Families and Small Businesses
• Satellite TV subscribers will see their monthly bills go up 5%.
• This tax will impact every bar, restaurant and hotel that subscribes to satellite TV service, which will translate into higher prices, decreased revenues, and fewer jobs.
• Rural Illinois has no choice: In many parts of Illinois, cable refuses to provide TV service to rural communities. Satellite TV is their only option.
HB 5440 Is Not About Parity or Fairness
• Cable’s claim that this discriminatory tax is justified because satellite TV doesn’t pay local franchise fees could not be further from the truth. Cable pays those fees to local towns and cities in exchange for the right to bury cables in the public rights of way—a right that Comcast and Charter value in the tens of billions of dollars in their SEC filings.
• Satellite companies don’t pay franchise fees for one simple reason: We use satellites—unlike cable, we don’t need to dig up streets and sidewalks to deliver our TV service.
• Making satellite subscribers pay franchise fees—or, in this case, an equivalent amount in taxes—would be like taxing the air It’s no different than making airline passengers pay a fee for laying railroad tracks.
According to the Sunlight Foundation, independent expenditures on federal campaigns by so-called “superPACs” and others have just about reached the half-billion dollars mark. Yes, that’s billion with a “b.”
About three-quarters of that money has been spent on negative attack ads. And about $14 million of that has been spent in just three Chicago-area congressional races. So now you know why you’ve been so inundated.
Some people look at all this moolah and shake their heads and worry about its impact on our democracy.
Others see all the cash and want in.
Two buddies of mine are thinking about starting their own superPACs.
They’re no fools. The standard fee for “placing” a TV ad is up to 15 percent. Place a few million bucks and you don’t have to work for a while. All you gotta do is find a few angry people who have more money than they know what to do with and help them direct their rage.
Chicago’s Schadenfreude comedy group has caught on to this new gold rush. They’re running a series,” Poor Judgement,” on YouTube about the fictional “Integrity Independent Film Company.” The liberal company is dead broke and desperate for work. During Episode 1, they debate whether to sell their souls and make ads for superPACs.
“One word. Sometimes two. SuperPACs,” says “Justin,” who in real life is WBEZ executive producer Justin Kaufmann.
“Oh, like the Lunchables,” says his partner “Jim,” who is Jim Bennett, a recent winner of the Grand Slam for The Moth storytelling competition.
“Not the Lunchables!” says Justin. “The thing where the trillionaires give politicians a ton of cash for campaigns and issues. They have a film company that shoots the ad. It’s the film company that shoots the ad.”
“Yeah, but what if we don’t agree with what they stand for?” asks “Kate,” played by Kate James of Second City and Schadenfreude.
“F*** ideals!” rages Justin. “Why do you care what anybody thinks?”
“Because what brought us together was integrity,” says Jim.
“What brought us together was ‘My Own Private Idaho.’ We all liked that movie,” cracks Justin.
“C’mon, Jim, don’t you want to make bank?” he demands. Justin eventually wins out.
In Episode 2, they change their company’s name to “N.Tegrity Political Films” and take a meeting with some wealthy right-wingers who run the “Committee for a More Beautiful America.”
After some false starts, Justin makes their pitch. “Colonial times. Ship off in the distance. And it docks. And all these people get off the ship. It’s the beginning of the country. It’s the beginning of hope.”
One of the superPAC’s leaders interrupts. “And the people getting off the Mayflower have some sort of tongue disease and syphillis and smallpox because of ObamaCare in 2012, right? I like it. Yes to that.”
The superPAC guys eventually give the N.Tegrity folks their own idea for a TV ad. It features a baby in its crib. “It’s 3 a.m.,” says the announcer, “and while you sleep, your infant daughter stirs as she realizes that the following groups will either try to kill her or tax her to death: Mexicans, the gays, solar power advocates, Latinos, liberals, fact checkers, Chicagoans, youth, near-sighted independents,” and on and on.
Episode 3 involves a meeting with two potential clients, the Council On American Marriage and the American Council For Marriage. One is anti-gay and the other is pro-gay. But the hapless film company folks don’t know who is who and which is which and hilarity ensues.
I hope my buddies don’t have these problems. Selling one’s soul and destroying the country shouldn’t be so difficult.