* The AP focused on guns…
U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin and GOP challenger Jim Oberweis disagreed Monday on whether to require universal background checks for firearms purchases, with Durbin saying it would reduce violence in a country “awash in guns” and Oberweis saying he’s not convinced the checks would have the intended impact.
Oberweis, an Illinois state senator and entrepreneur from Sugar Grove, is trying to unseat Durbin — the U.S. Senate’s No. 2 Democrat — in November. They met Monday before the Chicago Tribune editorial board for their first joint, televised appearance of the 2014 campaign.
If you missed the debate yesterday, you can watch it here.
* ABC 7 went with these two issues…
Tax returns and residency take center stage in a face-to-face meeting in the race for the U.S. Senate race in Illinois. Both Democratic incumbent Dick Durbin and Republican challenger Jim Oberweis appeared before the editorial board of the Chicago Tribune.
Durbin demanded proof that the Republican is an Illinois income tax payer. Oberweis’ wife lives in, and takes a homestead exemption in, the couple’s Florida house, making her a permanent resident there. The candidate says he still lives in Kane County.
Later, Oberweis would not guarantee he’d make his state return public, but insisted he does pay Illinois income taxes.
* Oberweis made good on releasing his returns…
Oberweis accused Durbin of lying and insisted he pays Illinois taxes. “If it’s an important issue, I will provide you the state income tax (forms),” Oberweis said.
Hours later, he landed a counterpunch by releasing his 2012 and 2013 Illinois state income tax returns. In 2013, Oberweis reported $1.726 million in total income and paid $61,739 in state taxes. He overpaid by $4,485, money that will reduce his 2014 obligation.
His 2012 state tax return reported almost $1.43 million in income and a tax bill of $60,871.
* After the debate, Oberweis pointed to another tax issue…
According to the Oberweis campaign, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin was caught lying today at the Chicago Tribune editorial board session when asked about his role in the IRS scandal.
In a press release, Oberweis said Durbin was asked unequivocally whether he or his U.S. Senate staff had ANY contact with the IRS during the IRS scandal other than the well-publicized letter he wrote asking the IRS to target Crossroads GPS on Oct. 10, 2010.
Durbin responded that there was no other correspondence.
Oberweis then produced an email from a Durbin staffer to an IRS staffer two days after the Crossroads letter. The email was first revealed by the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in its June 16, 2014 report titled, “How Politics Led the IRS to Target Conservative Tax-Exempt Applicants for the Political Beliefs.”
“Dick Durbin flat-out lied to the Tribune editorial board. This is important because we don’t know how deep Dick Durbin’s role was in the IRS scandal that he himself characterized as reminiscent of the worst abuses of the Richard Nixon era,” Oberweis said.
The brief e-mail, which is here, is from a Durbin aide. The Durbin campaign later responded to the Oberweis claim…
Durbin campaign spokesman Ron Holmes later dismissed the email’s significance, saying it was sent by Durbin’s staff to alert an IRS employee to Durbin’s already-disclosed letter a day after it was sent.
*** UPDATE *** Sheesh…
He thinks Evergreen Park is a black neighborhood?
- Posted by Rich Miller
* Sen. Dick Durbin’s response to questions about the governor’s NRI program, which is now under federal investigation, is impossible to argue with..
“I don’t know where the chips are going to fall. I don’t know who’s responsible for wrongdoing here,” said Durbin, D-Ill., Friday in an interview with Early & Often. “I’m not for a whitewash or walking away from it. Let’s find out.” […]
Durbin lauded William Holland, the state’s auditor general, who in February released a blistering review of the program, describing it as “hastily implemented” and said it didn’t target some of the most crime-prone neighborhoods in Chicago. Holland found that Quinn’s administration didn’t “adequately monitor” how state grant dollars were spent or on whom; community organizations that hired people with those funds weren’t maintaining time sheets; and city aldermen dictated where funding was to be steered.
“I’ve known him for years. Years. We worked together on the Senate staff, back many years ago. And he’s been auditor general two decades or more,” Durbin said. “I have the highest respect for his integrity. When he looks at it and says, ‘This needs to be investigated,’ I agree with Bill Holland.”
* Meanwhile, this was a pretty darned good pivot when asked about Jim Oberweis’ charge that he had “bullied” companies like Walgreens to keep them from moving their headquarters overseas…
“I think that’s a senator’s responsibility. To work to keep businesses in this state and to keep them in this country,” Durbin said. “Now, here comes my opponent and he’s saying: “oh, you shouldn’t do this. There’s a reason why he’s saying that. Jim Oberweis is a walking inversion.”
Durbin cited Oberweis’ wife claiming permanent residence in Florida and the husband and wife filing separate taxes to take advantage of tax breaks in Florida.
“Jim Oberweis has refused to disclose his state income tax return. The obvious question is out of the million-dollar-plus salary … how much did he pay Illinois income tax on?” Durbin said. “I think it’s a question he ought to answer. I disclose all my income tax … schedules included.”
* And he called the support of Oberweis by two black ministers a “novelty”…
“I’ll tell you this: If Mr. Oberweis wants this battle fought among African-Americans in Chicago or in Cook County — be my guest,” Durbin said. “I think [with] my voting record, my support of the president and my support of programs that will make a positive difference in their lives, I’ll do quite well.”
* But the Oberweis campaign got in a solid zinger of its own after Durbin called on his opponent to raise wages at his ice cream stores…
“Dick Durbin’s policies have resulted in the worst economic recovery in U.S. history and devastation for the poor and middle class in Illinois,” said Oberweis spokesman Dan Curry. “He’s possibly the last person on Earth Jim Oberweis would go to for advice on how to run his successful businesses.”
- Posted by Rich Miller
* You would think that US Sen. Rob Portman, the vice chairman for finance of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, would have at least passing knowledge of a race involving the Senate’s second highest ranking Democrat…
Portman was asked whether the committee would give Oberweis financial help or other assistance in his race. He also was asked to gauge Oberweis’ chances.
He said: “I don’t know what the NRSC decision will be there. I have been told that that (Illinois) race has closed somewhat. It’s a single-digit race based on some polling, but I just don’t know enough about it.”
Does he expect the committee to help Oberweis?
“I don’t know,” Portman replied. “I mean, frankly the playing field (for Republicans) is already very broad. I don’t think people would have been expected to be talking about Minnesota and New Hampshire and Virginia and Oregon, and we are, so the playing field is already quite broad.”
- Posted by Rich Miller
* Remember the America’s PAC radio ad we talked about the other day?…
Americas PAC has just released a new radio ad running across Illinois highlighting the wage gap between men and women working on Dick Durbin’s Senate staff […]
Analysis of Senate Staff payroll by the Washington Free Beacon found that in 2012 Durbin “paid men $13,063 more, a difference of 23 percent.” [Link http://freebeacon.com/politics/senate-dems-betray-lilly/]
“The average female on his staff was paid about 77 cents for every dollar earned by his male staffers,” Donelson said.
* Well, US Sen. Dick Durbin’s has contacted at least one radio station about it…
Quincy’s WTAD-AM, which is owned by STARadio along with Quincy Journal, has been running the ad. STARadio was contacted by someone representing Sen. Durbin.
“WTAD received an email and phone call from a firm representing Senator Durbin earlier in the week,” said STARadio VP/GM Mike Moyers. “A letter attached to the email implied that the commercial being aired by Americas PAC contained false information and that WTAD would be liable should we continue to air it. Sources provided by Americas PAC were checked and proved to be in line, so the commercial in question is still on the air.”
* America’s PAC response…
“If anything, we’ll increase the buy,” Donelson said. “And even if the stations knuckle under to the threats of Senator Durbin and his lawyers, Americas PAC will continue to run ads highlighting Senator Durbin’s and the President’s wage gap problems and hypocrisy. We’re scripting an even harder hitting ad already.”
* Here’s the ad, in case you’ve forgotten…
- Posted by Rich Miller
* The Hill looks at Illinois congressional contests…
At least four Illinois races this cycle are competitive, and Republicans are optimistic they can pick up at least one to two seats, especially with a robust GOP turnout operation backed by the wealthy Rauner.
One-term former GOP Reps. Bob Dold and Bobby Schilling are both in close rematches against Democratic Reps. Brad Schneider and Cheri Bustos, respectively. Republicans also hope to knock off freshman Rep. Bill Enyart (D) after unsuccessfully targeting the open downstate district in 2012, contending GOP state Rep. Mike Bost’s campaign is on the upswing.
* One reason why the national GOPs are optimistic is the unpopularity of Gov. Pat Quinn…
The GOP-aligned American Action Network released an automated poll last week that showed Dold up 42 percent to 39 percent in the rematch [with Schneider]. But in the governor’s race, in a district Obama won by 17 points, Rauner was leading Quinn 49 percent to 37 percent. Republicans expect similar, or even worse numbers, in from their governor in other districts in the state. […]
“We can tie Quinn to every single congressional race,” said one national GOP strategist
That poll and the expectation of tying candidates to Quinn doesn’t surprise me at all. I’m not so sure that works well in Illinois, though. Republicans tried hard to tie Democrats to Rod Blagojevich without much success.
* More from the poll…
President Barack Obama has a 44 percent job approval rating in the 10th district with 46 percent saying they disapprove and 10 percent not sure. […]
Schneider is vulnerable because in his second year as a House member, a large number of poll respondents—44 percent—have no opinion of how he is handling his job, with 28 percent approving and 28 percent disapproving. […]
* The candidate calls himself a moderate but then campaigns with Nancy Pelosi and the chair of the Democratic National Committee.
More likely 32 percent
Less likely 45 percent
Not sure 23 percent
* The candidate claims to be independent but votes with party leadership 90 percent of the time.
More likely 15 percent
Less likely 43 percent
Not sure 41 percent.
That district could easily wind up bouncing back and forth between the two parties for the rest of the remap cycle.
* Back to The Hill…
Democrats’ one saving grace could be Sen. Dick Durbin (D). The Senate majority whip is up for reelection but faces only nominal GOP opposition for a fourth term. As a downstate native who hails from Springfield, he’s always had a good image around the state and is a valuable elder statesman and party fundraiser.
I just don’t think as of yet that Durbin’s coattails will be long enough.
- Posted by Rich Miller
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