* Hopefully, we’ll soon get beyond the “He said, she said” reporting on the campaign reform bill that passed the Senate yesterday and into the meat of the bill. I told subscribers about this a couple of days ago…
One politically intriguing provision in the proposal would ban the Illinois Democratic Party from endorsing candidates in its primary elections as well as giving money to primary candidates.
Such a move would mean that House Speaker Michael Madigan, who also is state Democratic chairman, could not engineer the slating of his daughter, Atty. Gen. Lisa Madigan, as a candidate for governor against Quinn or use state Democratic Party resources against him.
That provision was apparently demanded of Madigan by Quinn. Heckuva move.
The language wouldn’t apply to the Illinois GOP because it organizes under a different part of the statute. But, there is a bill ready to go which would force the Republicans into the same organizational rules as the Democrats.
The heated debate came after other reform groups criticized a Senate Democratic plan to limit how much money legislative leaders can distribute to rank-and-file legislators.
Senate Democrats want to limit such transfers to $90,000 per year. But that’s far from the $30,000 per election limit recommended by Quinn’s commission.
Those are just cash transfers. “In-kind” contributions - goods and services - would not be capped at all. Here’s the Sun-Times’ take…
The other essential ingredient of real campaign finance reform would be caps on how much legislative leaders can transfer from their war chests to allies in tight legislative races.
It’s true that the reform proposal puts a $90,000 limit on those transfers. But — you guessed it — there’s a loophole. There will be no limit on how much legislative leaders can give in “in-kind contributions.”
That means they can spend as much as they want to send out mailers, set up phone banks and buy radio and television advertising to help out a friend in need.
And, remember, these are annual cash caps. A Senator with a four-year term could get $360,000 in annual $90,000 contributions from his or her leader. I explained more about those annual caps last night.
* This is a bizarre little addition…
The measure also would permit the creation of “constituent service” committees to collect funds to help pay for operating lawmakers’ district offices.
Those committees appear ripe for potential abuse.
* The Tribune was its usual self, but made some valid points in its editorial today…
We’ve never had much faith in the notion that setting limits on campaign contributions would stop the practice of trading cash for political favors. Attempts to do so at the federal level have only shown that resourceful politicians will always find a way to keep the money flowing. Democrats in the Illinois Senate drove home the point Thursday by pushing a “reform” measure so full of loopholes that one government watchdog called it “worse than nothing.”
“Any 2nd grader could figure out a way around it,” said David Morrison, deputy director of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform. Morrison’s group strongly supports limits on contributions, as does the Illinois Reform Commission, whose recommendations looked like roadkill by the time the Senate Executive Committee took up the bill. Thus we were treated to the spectacle of Gov. Pat Quinn applauding a “landmark” bill opposed by his blue-ribbon reform panel.
The governor threw Pat Collins and the reform commission right under the bus yesterday. They appeared stunned at how fast things moved away from them.
* And even though the editorial boards will go nuts against this bill, Senate President Cullerton was probably right last night when he warned Republicans that voting against the legislation wouldn’t look too great during campaigns next year…
Cullerton also told Republican senators it was “crazy dumb” to oppose the bill. “But have at it. I look forward to next year,” he said.
* Clout goes to college - Rezko relative is among those admitted to U. of I. in shadow system influenced by trustees and other insiders: Since 2005, about 800 undergraduate students have landed on the clout list for the Urbana-Champaign campus. It’s unknown how many would qualify for entry on their own, but their acceptance rate is higher than average. For the 2008-09 school year, for example, about 77 percent were accepted, compared with 69 percent of all applicants. That’s in spite of the fact that patronage candidates, as a group, had lower average ACT scores and class ranks than all admitted students, records show.
* Firings, FOIA bills advance in legislature
* Ald. Isaac Carothers wore wire for a year
* Chicago alderman indicted: Carothers took money from developer to help get project launched, prosecutors say