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Today’s number: $42,000

Monday, Apr 27, 2015

* Uh-oh

According to campaign records with the Illinois Elections Board, Illinois State Senator James Clayborne from East St Louis, the number two man in the state senate, spent some $42,000 on chauffeured limousines between 2003 and 2014.

Fox 2 also discovered Clayborne spent $50,000 in campaign funds during those years on overseas travel to a dozen nations.

The senator represents some of the most impoverished areas of the metro east.

When asked to explain himself, Clayborne said, “Campaign dollars are donations. They’re not public dollars.”

* Ugh. Here is just a small handful of the Senator’s disclosures. Click here for the full file

* One quibble

But clearly the public cares how candidates spend dollars. The Illinois Policy Institute helped with this investigation.

“Campaign money should go towards campaigning,” said executive director Kristina Rasmussen.

Actually, state law allows legislators to use campaign money to pay for legislative functions. It saves taxpayers some money. But that many limo rides? Sheesh.

* Video

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Apr 27, 15 @ 9:22 am:

    Is the IPI Rauner’s Luca Brasi?

    One by one, Rauner will leverage members, IPI… helping… when the need arises.

    Not defending one bit the 42 large on the limos, but after Schock got taken out, and now seeing IPI “helping” in investigative reports, maybe IPI and/or Rauner sees the Luca “leverage” angle differently.

  2. - Anonymous - Monday, Apr 27, 15 @ 9:22 am:

    assignments meetings? meaning a rules report? was the assignments meeting IN the limo? curious where the limo traveled to and from. as to expenditure, that’s between him and his donors

  3. - Anon - Monday, Apr 27, 15 @ 9:31 am:

    My guess is that the Senator isn’t traveling around in the stretch limos shown time after time in the b roll of this “story.” My guess is that the Senator used Uber, which is a smart service that probably uses fewer campaign dollars than it would cost to drive to each meeting (gas costs), pay tolls, and pay for parking. Just a ridiculous story by a man who clearly lacks the gravitas to report on real news.

  4. - BIG R. Ph - Monday, Apr 27, 15 @ 9:33 am:

    Funny how this information comes out shortly after the election in which he barely won. Information like this would have brought him down.

  5. - Rich Miller - Monday, Apr 27, 15 @ 9:34 am:

    ===My guess is that the Senator used Uber===

    Are you freaking blind? Look at the disclosure forms.


  6. - Team Sleep - Monday, Apr 27, 15 @ 9:36 am:

    Mrs. Rasmussen’s statement about campaign dollars is a bit shallow, although I suppose the term “campaigning” is broad.

    It’s been said many times before. Optics matter. An attorney - who’s also Senate Majority Leader - finds it necessary to plunk down campaign cash for limo rides. What’s wrong with just oh, I don’t know, paying out of pocket with your own cash? Senator Clayborne also drives a Vette, so I’m pretty sure he has enough cheddar to rent a limo with his own credit card.

  7. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Apr 27, 15 @ 9:36 am:

    ===My guess is that the Senator used Uber, which is a smart service that probably uses fewer campaign dollars than it would cost to drive to each meeting (gas costs), pay tolls, and pay for parking. Just a ridiculous story by a man who clearly lacks the gravitas to report on real news.===

    My guess is if he used Uber, he would hace said so.

    Being an apologist, and making up Dopey excuses that weren’t said is pretty pathetic.

    Blaming the reporter is so pathetic it makes me think…Hmm.

  8. - out of touch - Monday, Apr 27, 15 @ 9:40 am:

    The optics are bad, but anon at 9:31 makes a good point. When staying in New York (for example) getting a “limo” to the airport is cheaper and much more reliable than a cab. It’s not a limo, it’s a town car.
    The larger point is IPI “helping out” with this smear story and having the cajones to take credit for it. It’s the “non-partisan” think tank, turned “media” outlet, turned criminal justice reformer, turned investigative reporter. It seems that IPI’s primary function is to find new ways to justify its own existence.

  9. - MrJM - Monday, Apr 27, 15 @ 9:41 am:

    “Chauffeured limousines? Dummy! Dummy! Dummy! Why didn’t I use chauffeured limousines?!?” — Aaron Schock

  10. - chi - Monday, Apr 27, 15 @ 9:42 am:

    If you didn’t contribute to Clayborne’s campaign, any outrage is fake outrage. These aren’t taxpayer dollars, so why would anyone care, other than to gin up some pretend anger or to stoke feelings that Clayborne somehow violated the public trust (which he did not)?

  11. - hmmm - Monday, Apr 27, 15 @ 9:43 am:

    The optics are terrible, but there’s a couple of problems with this story. First, the “You paid for it” isn’t true in this case. Second, IPI has a political agenda and that wasn’t disclosed here. They become this great independent watchdog when it helps frame the story. On both of those counts the reporter is being disingenuous.

  12. - Team Sleep - Monday, Apr 27, 15 @ 9:43 am:

    Willy - but blaming the reporter is the Springfield way! How dare Elliot Davis do the report and Rich Miller post the link?! SNARK!

  13. - Former Downstater - Monday, Apr 27, 15 @ 9:44 am:

    This ain’t Uber
    Our Fleet
    >Corporate Sedans
    >Vans & SUV’s
    >Motor Coaches

  14. - chi - Monday, Apr 27, 15 @ 9:44 am:

    When people say “Oh but it looks bad! It’s the optics!” that is pure laziness. “Is it bad?” That is the question. And the objective answer is: “Not if you’re not one of his campaign contributors.”

  15. - ThatOneGuy - Monday, Apr 27, 15 @ 9:44 am:

    I can understand transportation when he goes somewhere and doesnt have an easily accessible car but is a limo really needed? This notion just further spreads the gap between him and his district. Be responsible with the dollars you are entrusted with

  16. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Apr 27, 15 @ 9:49 am:

    - Team Sleep -,

    Apologies. My bad.

    At least he disclosed the $42K, so maybe I should just be thankful for that and “move along”…

  17. - MrJM - Monday, Apr 27, 15 @ 9:49 am:

    “why would anyone care, other than to gin up some pretend anger or to stoke feelings that Clayborne somehow violated the public trust?”

    Maybe because it’s a strong indicator of personal arrogance and political stupidity?

    – MrJM

  18. - Ghost - Monday, Apr 27, 15 @ 9:51 am:

    I would be curious to see the cost of a taxi for these same trips. Antecdotally i have used limos where the price difference between the taxi and the limo was 20% or less. Limo from airport, 100, taxi, 80….. Thant kind of thing. Not saying thats the excuse here, but it woukd put things in perspective, i.e 20k in taxi expense becomes 40k luxury limo rides…. V 35k in taxi expenses ends up as 40k limo.

  19. - walker - Monday, Apr 27, 15 @ 9:52 am:

    Usually this irresponsible use of campaign funds occurs in non-competitive districts. It’s foolish if you’ve got a well-financed opponent on the horizon.

    While not illegal, it is a bad practice, in that it adds to the public distrust in politicians.

  20. - MikeMacD - Monday, Apr 27, 15 @ 9:57 am:

    Back when I travelled a lot I would always use a limo because they were more reliable for pickups, the drivers didn’t operate the vehicles like they were Italian taxi drivers and the vehicles were much better maintained than the taxis that I had experienced. The cost differential was surprisingly small.

    Without more information, this story doesn’t seem weighty. $42,000 over 11 years? How much would taxis have cost?

  21. - a drop in - Monday, Apr 27, 15 @ 10:11 am:

    My only comment would be: Couldn’t he use a good old Illinois company?

  22. - Cheswick - Monday, Apr 27, 15 @ 10:20 am:

    Somebody should start a business called Car Service. It’ll do the same thing as Book-a-Limo, but take the wind out of the IPI’s sails.

  23. - Senator Clay Davis - Monday, Apr 27, 15 @ 10:24 am:

    “Clayborne spent $50,000 in campaign funds during those years on overseas travel to a dozen nations.”

    Forget the limos, how is this legal? What sort of disclosure of travel purposes is required under Illinois law?

  24. - Jake From Elwood - Monday, Apr 27, 15 @ 10:26 am:

    Methinks someone is trying to Schock the State Senator. Let’s hope this isn’t the tip of the iceberg.

  25. - OneMan - Monday, Apr 27, 15 @ 10:28 am:

    The $432.38 that was spent to go to a Rep Jone’s wake is a nice touch…

    Also if he was using Uber in 2005 he has mad skillz…

  26. - A guy - Monday, Apr 27, 15 @ 10:30 am:

    As long as he’s comfortable….ack!!

  27. - OneMan - Monday, Apr 27, 15 @ 10:34 am:

    Gonna sound silly but does he have a drivers license?

  28. - Arthur Andersen - Monday, Apr 27, 15 @ 10:43 am:

    In defense of Clayborne, and as a previous occasional user of these services (on my own dime) when traveling to NYC, a couple things. At these prices for a daily trip, he was riding in an SUV or a sedan-nothing gaudy. More importantly, what these services bought me and why I was willing to pay for it was reliability. On time, every time with a clean vehicle and a driver who knew where he was going and wasn’t gonna game me on the fare. The latter is obviously less relevant here.

    These are the consequences of relocating the Capitol to Chicago.

  29. - That one over there! - Monday, Apr 27, 15 @ 11:12 am:

    Personally roughly $3,500 a year in car service (most likely a town car or van and not ACTUALLY a limo)for the number two in command just doesn’t seem over the top or out of the ordinary to me. As far as over seas travel legislators almost always attend (or at least get invited to) out of country conferences and international delegations once they reach leadership. Its still part of their job as a legislator.

  30. - RWP - Monday, Apr 27, 15 @ 11:19 am:

    MikeMacD and Arthur Andersen are right. This is not a lot of money for that many years. Sounds like 1 round trip a month on average.

  31. - BlameBruceRauner - Monday, Apr 27, 15 @ 11:21 am:

    As mentioned, while not illegal its a bad practice. But the question here is was he alone during the rides, or was he accompanied by anyone else. This is where the slippery slope begins.

  32. - 999exodus - Monday, Apr 27, 15 @ 11:27 am:

    Trash journalism spun by the Republicans to try and make a hard working, good man look bad. Claybourn’s campaign dollars are not public funds they are the Senators. Rauner rides around in a huge party bus and Elliott didn’t say a word. Partisan and pathetic pandering!

  33. - siriusly - Monday, Apr 27, 15 @ 11:30 am:

    The only expenditure listed is the third party limo booking agency he uses. Not sure what limo they use in his district or in Chicago. Can’t tell who owns that limo(s) or who the driver(s) are.

  34. - Fire F. - Monday, Apr 27, 15 @ 11:49 am:

    @BIG R. Ph raises a good point above. How did the Senate GOP miss this one last year? Ragdono and the state GOP gave Clayborne’s opponent only token support last year and she almost won anyway. Instead they spent money on three races that weren’t even close: attacking Link and Cunningham and supporting Nybo.

    We already knew poor polling was a problem for the SGOP, now we can add lousy opposition research to the list. They could have taken down the Senate Majority Leader.

  35. - JS Mill - Monday, Apr 27, 15 @ 12:19 pm:

    It just looks bad. MrJM gets it right.

  36. - Metro East Pundit - Monday, Apr 27, 15 @ 12:50 pm:

    What I do have a problem with is Elliot Davis giving a state number out regarding a political issue! He should have giving out the campaign number.

  37. - D.P.Gumby - Monday, Apr 27, 15 @ 12:56 pm:

    It only looks bad if someone wants it to look bad…and the name of the company contributes to that because it isn’t Joe’s Junker Transportation Company. Calling them “chauffeured limousine” reminds me of the legendary political dirty tricks from the old days calling the opponent’s sister a “well known thespian” who “matriculated up North”.

  38. - Team Sleep - Monday, Apr 27, 15 @ 1:39 pm:

    999 - no offense, but you clearly don’t know much about Elliot Davis’s style or his “You paid for it!” segment. He’s an equal opportunity “offender”.

    Big R Ph & Fire F - I’m not so sure, but I agree that it wouldn’t have hurt for the SGOPs to assign a staffer to the 57th District and expend more than $16,000 to help her. I admittedly never expected Mike Bost to trounce Bill Enyart by such a wide margin and I never thought that Bruce Rauner would win St. Clair County outright. I too was a bit surprised when they went after Senator Cunningham. Not that he’s a ball of fire or a key committee chairman, but still. I guess it’s a judgment call along the veins of the HRO spreading itself so thin that it couldn’t pull in any prizes.

  39. - Anonymous - Monday, Apr 27, 15 @ 2:18 pm:

    Another example of political arrogance. Blago, Schock, Nixon, Clinton, We are above rules and common sense.

  40. - Walter Mitty - Monday, Apr 27, 15 @ 3:22 pm:

    This looks bad… His response, even worse.. What will come of it? Let’s see? A follow up in 6 months will be telling. If nothing changes, well, he is comfy. If it does, he get’s it..

  41. - Sheesh Hecuka Cupajava - Monday, Apr 27, 15 @ 3:50 pm:

    haha James F. Says Elliot is frustrated because he can’t get national news. James F looks like he is the one that is frustrated here because he is still a state senator. Sheeeesh

  42. - Anonymous - Monday, Apr 27, 15 @ 6:40 pm:

    And how many free meals has Senator Clayborne received over the years from Excelon/Com Edison?

  43. - jake - Monday, Apr 27, 15 @ 10:54 pm:

    Campaign dollars are not public dollars, but they are also not supposed to be for purely personal luxury spending. Claybourne’s behavior may not be prosecutable, but it is certainly unethical.

  44. - That one over there! - Tuesday, Apr 28, 15 @ 11:12 am:

    I don’t see anything unethical. The car service is used so he can do his job as a senator. He could have used tax payer money and paid for it out of his state allotment, so he saved tax payers money in a way but I guess no one wants to hear that…

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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