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A look at the meat

Friday, May 29, 2009

* 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.

* More

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.

* Related…

* 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

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Fire Ron Guenther - Friday, May 29, 09 @ 10:27 am:

    Great job, Jim Edgar! Your idiotic move of appointing UI trustees instead of electing them has helped create this shame. Maybe Mike Lawrence can make an excuse for this.

  2. - OneMan - Friday, May 29, 09 @ 10:28 am:

    Again, a Chicago Alderman is a much better investment than a legislator.

  3. - Anonymous in Chicago - Friday, May 29, 09 @ 10:28 am:

    Anybody know when the campaign contribution caps take effect? Are the incumbents shutting out the challengers by capping donations for the ‘10 primary and general? (after they’ve collected their bid dollar donations already)

  4. - siriusly - Friday, May 29, 09 @ 10:31 am:

    Tribune’s follow-up on Sunday will focus on legislators and the U of I. that will be fun.

  5. - walter sobchak - Friday, May 29, 09 @ 10:36 am:

    In any case, the President of the University of Illinois should resign. Although I guess I shouldn’t be surprised/disgusted at such tawdriness, the idea that deserving kids, who busted their tails to qualify for a spot, were denied one by clout does both. How does the President of the University look at himself in the mirror every morning?

  6. - VanillaMan - Friday, May 29, 09 @ 10:36 am:

    …would ban the Illinois Democratic Party from endorsing candidates in its primary elections as well as giving money to primary candidates.

    We have been seeing how the Party will not take responsibility for their nominees. Had the Party’s nominations meant something, getting the nod from the party establishment before the primaries would mean something.

    But since we’ve been watching more fingerpointing when nominated candidates are discovered to be inept embarrassments by the very people who worked and paid to get them elected, nominations are now meaningless, endorsements should not be taken as enlightened, and voters will be left with either depending on family names of incumbants, or taking a wild risk using other means.

    As long as every voter is blamed for voting for a candidate who turns out to be unworthy of ever being nominated, then I guess we can just playing games, and run a banner under every candidate’s ad saying…

    ” Please be aware that the comments and opinions expressed by this individual, as well as their performance in office if elected, is not a reflection on the Party’s ability to elect quality candidates.

    Before voting for any individual in our primaries or general elections, please be aware that you are doing so under your own risk, as the Party takes no responsibilities for any criminal acts, ethical violations, damaging public policies, increased taxes, or negative publicity.”

  7. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Friday, May 29, 09 @ 10:41 am:

    One other positive point in the campaign finance reform bill NOT mentioned by the Tribune is that
    General Assembly members and the Governor would be required to report contributions in concert with the legislative cycle, not just the election cycle.

    That would put a spotlight on efforts by — oh, lets say a Governor — trying to raise $15,000 lump sums from special interest groups while pending legislation that impacts them is sitting on his desk.

  8. - George - Friday, May 29, 09 @ 10:43 am:

    “Again, a Chicago Alderman is a much better investment than a legislator.”

    Unless, apparently, you have kids nearing college age.

  9. - Rich Miller - Friday, May 29, 09 @ 10:47 am:

    Anonymous in Chicago, try reading the bill before asking questions like that. It’s linked.

    But, the answer is January, 2011. I think I posted that last night, which is also linked.

  10. - lake county democrat - Friday, May 29, 09 @ 10:49 am:

    Re: the FOIA bill — the Tribune reports that it keeps the same major loopholes that the state uses now to deny requests while closing a legion of minor ones.

  11. - OneMan - Friday, May 29, 09 @ 10:58 am:

    interesting question, under new FOID could you FOID all of the ’special’ admissions at state schools to get the sponsors?

  12. - George - Friday, May 29, 09 @ 11:01 am:

    OneMan, you mean FOIA, right? Unless you mean giving a firearm owners ID card to each of the clout admissions.

  13. - Boxing Cross - Friday, May 29, 09 @ 11:16 am:

    Wow Boxed Cross has his guys vote “present” in committee…what will they do on the floor…how will they explain that roll call? Clearly following the SGOP woukd be huge, expensive mistake. “Present” will look dumb.
    But Boxed Cross is a clever guy. He is still trying to explain his vote for slots in bars adn teh Circular Firing Squad party platform ban on gambling cash for capital.
    This should be a snap. Tee Hee.

  14. - frustrated GOP - Friday, May 29, 09 @ 11:27 am:

    ON UofI. Maybe time for Mr White to go back to Mich. Go back to giving them football tickets and tell their kid to suck it up and go to NIU.
    On the campagin bill. No limit on in-kind. well nothing like taking a stand, sitting down. We need to stop all leadership to member contributions. The leadership is the problem. Some of these folks can’t stand on their own. time for them to go.

  15. - wordslinger - Friday, May 29, 09 @ 11:29 am:

    –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.–

    Huh? This reforms… what? And it prevents another Blago… how?

  16. - Hank - Friday, May 29, 09 @ 11:39 am:

    U of I story seems perfectly normal. You need to know someone to be accepted, you need to know someone to get a job with a good pension, you need to know someone to have your property taxes lowered, you need to know someone to get all those nice tickets to events. A good life lesson for the kiddies

  17. - Anonymous in Chicago - Friday, May 29, 09 @ 11:54 am:

    Thanks Rich.

  18. - Rayne of terror - Friday, May 29, 09 @ 12:55 pm:

    I take the trib story with a grain of salt. I was probably on a “clout” list because after 3 years with the GA I had the 2 senators I worked directly for write 2 of the 4 required recomendations for the law school app. But I also was accepted at every law school I applied to including out of state and T10, so I assume my app stood on it’s own as well.

  19. - Scooby - Friday, May 29, 09 @ 12:57 pm:

    I still can’t believe the R’s voted no on the reform bill. Sure it’s a really bad bill in a lot of ways, but at the end of the day low information voters are going to be told that the Republicans voted no on reform. I still can’t believe they walked right into that.

  20. - frustrated GOP - Friday, May 29, 09 @ 1:00 pm:

    UofI always had problems in Springfield because they didn’t care who your Chinaman was. Alumni Legislators couldn’t get their flunky kids in. was one thing when everyone got football tickets.

  21. - More Altgeld support - Friday, May 29, 09 @ 2:40 pm:

    I have some real issues with the idea that the party cannot endorse a candidate in the primary. Look at what happened when the party didn’t actively back candidates back in the 1980s and we ended up with LaRouchies winning the Sec. of State and Lt. Gov spots.

    It disappoints me that Quinn will do this for his personal benefit. So much for being a true public servant.

  22. - Amy - Friday, May 29, 09 @ 6:09 pm:

    to the folks on the Morning Shorts thread who positively yawned at the possibility that the Ike wire would yield anything….CBS, Mike Flannery says the talk is the G is looking at Luis G., as in the Congressman.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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