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*** UPDATED x4 - Rotering, Ruiz, Fairley, Quinn, Drury respond *** Opponent says Raoul should return “deeply disturbing” campaign contributions

Tuesday, Dec 19, 2017

* Greg Hinz

A leading contender in the race for Illinois attorney general has received $100,000 in donations in recent weeks from companies controlled by a tobacco mogul, companies that are directly regulated by the attorney general’s office under the national tobacco master settlement agreement.

Campaign disclosure records indicate that state Sen. Kwame Raoul of Chicago, who has been endorsed by the Cook County Democratic Organization in the race to succeed retiring Attorney General Lisa Madigan, has received 10 contributions of $10,000 each from companies operated by Don Levin.

Levin’s Top Tobacco is one of the parties to the national pact that Madigan enforces and oversees here in Illinois. Madigan’s office confirms that it has opposed Top Tobacco in a series of arbitrations—one pending—in which it is seeking tens of millions of dollars from that company and others in a dispute over payments to the state from the tobacco settlement.

Levin is best known locally as the owner of the Chicago Wolves professional hockey team. But, professionally, he’s more prominent as the head of an empire of tobacco and tobacco-related products, including Job rolling papers, which Reuters in 2012 estimated as being worth as much as $2.3 billion. […]

Also at issue is the appearance that, if he’s elected with Levin’s money—Levin’s companies have provided roughly a third of the funds Raoul has reported receiving so far for the primary campaign—Raoul would be in a position to immediately provide millions of dollars of regulatory relief in exchange. […]

Raoul spokesman Holmes said none of this makes a difference, since “Raoul is not attorney general.”

* From rival AG candidate Jesse Ruiz…

It is deeply disturbing that Kwame Raoul has accepted $100,000 in campaign donations from ten companies controlled by a single tobacco mogul – even though that mogul’s company is currently in direct conflict with the Illinois Attorney General through a multimillion-dollar tobacco arbitration.

The statement from his campaign that ‘Raoul is not Attorney General’ demonstrates a profound ethical indifference incompatible with the responsibilities of the Illinois Attorney General. This indifference can further be seen in the fact that Senator Raoul has seemingly encouraged a contributor to do an end run around the legal limits on campaign contributions.

When candidates take huge amounts of money from contributors who have a very obvious financial interest in the outcome of an election and a pending case, it undermines public trust in our democratic system of government. I call on Kwame Raoul to do the right and ethical thing and return the $100,000 in tobacco money.

*** UPDATE *** Raoul campaign…

Sen. Raoul has the strongest drug reform record in this race. He’s eager to talk about what he’s done for Illinois children as a legislator and what he will do for them when he’s attorney general over the course of the campaign.

However, since Mr. Ruiz brought it up, let’s examine Sen. Raoul’s record side-by-side with Mr. Ruiz. While Jesse was supposed to be looking out for our children he:

    awarded a multi-million dollar no-bid contract to the SUPES Academy - a training group where then-CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett had once worked - which led to an eventual 4 and ½ year prison sentence for bribery charges
    closed 50 schools in Chicago’s neighborhoods
    Had to borrow $1 billion just to cover budget gaps created by his board’s mismanagement

Meanwhile, Sen. Raoul:

    Passed a law to establish penalties for knowingly manufacturing, delivering or possessing fentanyl.
    Passed a bill out of the Senate which makes it illegal to distribute or sell a product containing or delivering nicotine that is not a tobacco product unless the product has been approved or otherwise certified for legal sale by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as a tobacco use cessation product, or for other medical purposes, and is being marketed and sold solely for that approved purpose.
    Passed a bill out of the Senate which bans flavored tobacco wraps which were manufactured and marketed to minors.
    Passed a law to amend the Illinois Controlled Substances Act to include certain synthetic cannabinoids under the list of Schedule I controlled substances.
    Was the chief co-sponsor of a law to provide that treatment under the supervision of a licensed program designated by the Department of Human Services is not available to: a first-time offender charged or convicted of possession of 15 grams or more of methamphetamine; or a person who is otherwise ineligible for probation under specified provisions of the Methamphetamine Control and Community Protection Act.
    Sponsored a law to provide that the offense of knowingly manufacturing or delivering heroin, or possessing heroin with intent to manufacture or deliver, is not eligible for probation, conditional discharge, or periodic imprisonment if the amount of the heroin is 3 grams or more.
    Sponsored a law to provide that a person who falsely advertises a synthetic drug product is guilty of a Class 3 felony and may be fined an amount not to exceed $100,000. That law also amended the Illinois Controlled Substances Act to include 5-methoxy-diallyltryptamine as a Schedule I Controlled Substance.
    Sponsored a bill to gives DHS the ability to schedule entire structural classes of synthetic drugs as controlled substances. The bill also expanded the definition of “controlled substance” to specifically include synthetic drugs. It also defined “synthetic drug” to include references to the three most common classes of synthetic drugs: synthetic cannabinoids (”Spice”), synthetic cathinones (”Bath Salts”), and synthetic piperazines (”Fake Ecstasy”).
    And he voted for SB 500, the Smoke Free Illinois Act. He was a co-sponsor of and voted for HB0556, the proposed 90 cent per pack cigarette tax hike, in ‘07 and co-sponsored resolutions recognizing our Smoke Free Illinois law.

*** UPDATE 2 *** Former Gov. Pat Quinn…

“If you’re running for Attorney General, you shouldn’t be taking $100,000 from Big Tobacco. That’s the wrong way to go. Pay-to-play has no place in the Attorney General’s office, which directly oversees the tobacco settlement agreement. Senator Raoul should return the $100,000 campaign contribution from Big Tobacco immediately.”

Rep. Scott Drury…

Raoul has a long history of taking the side of special interests to the detriment of consumers and children. Whether the issue is promoting underage gambling, the proliferation of guns and, now, tobacco - Raoul is the enemy of consumer protection.

Illinois deserves an Attorney General committed to cleaning up Illinois. I have demonstrated that commitment as a federal prosecutor and legislator, and, as Attorney General, I will continue this fight.

* Sharon Fairley…

Senator Raoul is becoming a wholly owned subsidiary of the corporate special interests that cause the most damage in our communities – energy companies, casinos, alcohol distributors, and now big tobacco. These companies have so much to gain, and Illinoisans have so much to lose, by having an attorney general under their influence.

Raoul’s most recent contributions from a tobacco magnate have obviously been structured in a manner to circumvent campaign finance rules, and are a clear reflection of the Senator’s lack of concern for the African-American community of Illinois, which is disproportionately affected by the harms of smoking.

This does not reflect the kind of integrity and independence we should expect from our next Attorney General.

*** UPDATE 3 *** Jesse Ruiz…

It’s not surprising that Kwame Raoul is trying to change the subject and shift attention away from his unethical decision to accept $100,000 in tobacco money from someone with litigation pending before the Office of the Attorney General.

So will Kwame Raoul return the tainted contribution or is he going to hide behind his statement that it doesn’t matter since he’s not currently the Attorney General? Will he stand for honesty and integrity in government or will he continue the same unethical ways of Springfield that voters are so sick of?

My father always told me that the best test of a person’s character is the way you behave when you think no one is looking. Senator Raoul is failing that test.

*** UPDATE 4 *** Mayor Nancy Rotering…

“Revelations that Kwame Raoul circumvented campaign finance laws to accept one hundred thousand dollars from ten different companies associated with Tobacco Mogul Dan Levin is deeply troubling. It was the Illinois Attorney General who, in 1998, sued Big Tobacco for the millions in compensation the state pays for tobacco-related medical expenses each year. Kwame Raoul can not be trusted to continue to hold Big Tobacco accountable. He has already demonstrated he lacks the political backbone to stand up to powerful special interests such as the NRA. In 2013, Kwame Raoul compromised with the NRA by writing a bill that made it now illegal in Illinois to ban assault weapons and high capacity ammunition clips. His compromises with the NRA are no less outrageous than his willingness to enlist Big Tobacco as a partner in his campaign for Attorney General. He should immediately donate this cash to non-profits such as the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society, and the American Lung Association.”

- Posted by Rich Miller        

34 Comments
  1. - Lt Guv - Tuesday, Dec 19, 17 @ 10:56 am:

    That’s a problem.


  2. - DarkHorse - Tuesday, Dec 19, 17 @ 11:01 am:

    First his snarky Miss America comment - for which he had to apologize - now these contributions, Raoul is so overrated. This is a huge Merry Christmas present to Pat Quinn.


  3. - Anon221 - Tuesday, Dec 19, 17 @ 11:05 am:

    Raoul spokesman Holmes said none of this makes a difference, since “Raoul is not attorney general.”

    Wrong answer. Some Money is not money, and some other Money is money. It matters where it came from, whether your campaign will be “pristine” or not. Raoul’s campaign may actually be able to “profit” by returning the Levin money very publically. Money has connections… and consequences.


  4. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Dec 19, 17 @ 11:15 am:

    Raoul spokesman Holmes said none of this makes a difference, since “Raoul is not attorney general.”

    What a politically-tone deaf response! This is a crowded field and one does not want to stick out for the wrong reasons. Rethink this type of response, if you are truly interested in winning.


  5. - The 647 - Tuesday, Dec 19, 17 @ 11:25 am:

    Maybe Holmes is right. It doesn’t matter because he is not going to be AG.


  6. - A guy - Tuesday, Dec 19, 17 @ 11:44 am:

    As long as this standard is universally applied….

    But it isn’t.


  7. - Kyle Hillman - Tuesday, Dec 19, 17 @ 11:59 am:

    “When candidates take huge amounts of money from contributors who have a very obvious financial interest in the outcome of an election…”

    That would be every candidiate…ever, including Ruiz.

    Tusk Holdings is a major casino consulting company. I am guessing Ruiz will give that money back too? Or how about all of the lawyers reporting in his D1s.

    Give me a break.


  8. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Dec 19, 17 @ 12:11 pm:

    ==Raoul spokesman Holmes said none of this makes a difference, since “Raoul is not attorney general.”==

    “What difference does it make.” Now, where have I heard this before? Hmmmm!


  9. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Dec 19, 17 @ 12:20 pm:

    - Tusk Holdings is a major casino consulting company. I am guessing Ruiz will give that money back too? Or how about all of the lawyers reporting in his D1s. -

    Are any of these entities currently involved in multimillion dollar arbitration with the Illinois AG?

    I’ll never understand why the insider Illinois young liberal crowd loves Kwame. Maybe he can try to eliminate free museum weekends again to drive home what a phony progressive he is.


  10. - Keyrock - Tuesday, Dec 19, 17 @ 12:22 pm:

    If others have enough money to go negative on Raoul, this race could get even more interesting. He’s giving them the material.


  11. - ABC - Tuesday, Dec 19, 17 @ 12:55 pm:

    So glad Kyle doesn’t see a problem with with Kwame taking money from someone with litigation before the office. And what happened to campaign finance reform?


  12. - Swift - Tuesday, Dec 19, 17 @ 1:02 pm:

    ==Passed a bill out of the Senate which makes it illegal to distribute or sell a product containing or delivering nicotine that is not a tobacco product unless the product has been approved or otherwise certified for legal sale by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as a tobacco use cessation product, or for other medical purposes, and is being marketed and sold solely for that approved purpose.==

    ==Passed a bill out of the Senate which bans flavored tobacco wraps which were manufactured and marketed to minors.==

    Not a smoker, but wouldn’t these two measures assist the tobacco industry? Isn’t the first going after vaping to the benefit of the tobacco industry? Why is this in the press release in response to criticism for accepting tobacco money?


  13. - Anon221 - Tuesday, Dec 19, 17 @ 1:05 pm:

    If Raoul cannot see the hypocrisy between accepting Levin’s money and what he aspires to in the AG’s office, then my vote will not be helping him.


  14. - ABC - Tuesday, Dec 19, 17 @ 1:17 pm:

    “Not a smoker, but wouldn’t these two measures assist the tobacco industry? Isn’t the first going after vaping to the benefit of the tobacco industry? Why is this in the press release in response to criticism for accepting tobacco money?”

    This ^^^. And also, still no response about the unethical conduct. Can’t take money from someone with litigation before the office. Why is this so difficult for him to understand?


  15. - Collect Call from Rod - Tuesday, Dec 19, 17 @ 1:26 pm:

    =Sen. Raoul has the strongest drug reform record in this race. He’s eager to talk about what he’s done for Illinois children as a legislator and what he will do for them when he’s attorney general over the course of the campaign.

    However, since Mr. Ruiz brought it up, let’s examine Sen. Raoul’s record side-by-side with Mr. Ruiz. While Jesse was supposed to be looking out for our children he…=

    Did I miss something? I thought Ruiz was questioning the contribution, not Raoul’s legislative record..


  16. - Soccermom - Tuesday, Dec 19, 17 @ 1:36 pm:

    ==Passed a bill out of the Senate which makes it illegal to distribute or sell a product containing or delivering nicotine that is not a tobacco product unless the product has been approved or otherwise certified for legal sale by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as a tobacco use cessation product, or for other medical purposes, and is being marketed and sold solely for that approved purpose.==

    ==Passed a bill out of the Senate which bans flavored tobacco wraps which were manufactured and marketed to minors.==

    Yeah, I don’t understand why Kwame is trying to prove his independence by citing two instances when he was clearly carrying water for this tobacco guy.


  17. - Kyle Hillman - Tuesday, Dec 19, 17 @ 1:39 pm:

    RE: ABC

    Oh no I have a problem with it, I have a problem with the entire way we find our elections. I want stricter rules and public funding.

    I just think it is a joke for a candidiate to say Kwame shouldn’t take money from people who have a financial interest in the election when that same candidate’s D1s are loaded with conflicts.

    As are just about all candidiates.


  18. - Shytown - Tuesday, Dec 19, 17 @ 1:47 pm:

    What a huge oops on the part of the Raoul campaign. Campaigns need to raise big money, but this should have been vetted (or maybe it was and they didn’t care). No matter how desperate campaigns might be for cash, it’s never worth taking money from someone who is this conflicted and will cause this level of grief. And, that statement from the campaign about him not being the attorney general and therefore not conflicted is among the top 10 worst campaign quotes of the tear.


  19. - Soccermom - Tuesday, Dec 19, 17 @ 1:52 pm:

    Heh. This is kinda funny.

    Corruptkwame.com


  20. - Shytown - Tuesday, Dec 19, 17 @ 1:56 pm:

    To Kyle’s points, i’m all for top to bottom campaign finance reform as well, but I don’t think there’s an apples to apples comparison here. There is a little hypocrisy here, but if there’s currently a case pending with the attorney general’s office that is tied to Levin’s companies then that represents a tangible conflict. And, $100,000 is a hell of a lot of money and as reported represents about a third of his contributions today.


  21. - Precinct Captain - Tuesday, Dec 19, 17 @ 2:23 pm:

    Is this hit going on tv or not? If not, it doesn’t matter politically.


  22. - Sue - Tuesday, Dec 19, 17 @ 2:33 pm:

    A better question for anyone running for AG Is how is it Lisa Madigan has stood by while Eddie V has participated in the fee award connected to the Illinois tobacco settlement and why hasn’t she taken steps to claw back those payments. Any fee contingency not disclosed in writing to a client in Illinois is voidable. Will our new AG who’s dad isn’t part of the Democratic club sue to collect those fees?


  23. - Kathy Drea, American Lung Association - Tuesday, Dec 19, 17 @ 3:27 pm:

    Senator Raoul voted YES on the following important tobacco control bills: SB500 -Smoke Free Illinois Act on March 29, 2007; SB2202 - Smoke Free College Campus Act on May 1, 2013; and most recently SB3011, Tobacco 21 on May 18th, 2016. He has consistently supported strong tobacco control legislation.


  24. - A guy - Tuesday, Dec 19, 17 @ 3:51 pm:

    What’s more troubling? That he raised a hundred grand or where it came from? In this race, anyone who gets a jump on the money train is going to trouble the others.


  25. - Nope - Tuesday, Dec 19, 17 @ 3:59 pm:

    Don’t give it back at least you took it publicly instead of in a shoebox


  26. - ILDemVoter - Tuesday, Dec 19, 17 @ 4:37 pm:

    ==Kathy Drea===
    I actually find it even more alarming that he supports strong tobacco regulation, yet took $100,000 from big tobacco. That’s the most hypocritical thing I’ve heard lately…


  27. - TheSilentCorner - Tuesday, Dec 19, 17 @ 4:58 pm:

    @Kathy Drea ==He has consistently supported strong tobacco control legislation.==

    Kwame voted yes in 2008 to weaken the Smoke Free Illinois Act. SB 2707. Secondhand smoke is bad for all of us. Raoul shouldn’t be helping smokers hurt others by weakening the Act.


  28. - James - Tuesday, Dec 19, 17 @ 5:10 pm:

    rollin, rollin, rollin, Raoul


  29. - Kathy Drea, American Lung Association - Tuesday, Dec 19, 17 @ 6:10 pm:

    @TheSilentCorner==Kwame voted yes in 2008 to weaken the Smoke Free Illinois Act. SB 2707. Secondhand smoke is bad for all of us. Raoul shouldn’t be helping smokers hurt others by weakening the Act.==

    In 2008, SB2707 was a trailer bill that provided an exemption for accredited university or government laboratories that conduct medical or scientific research regarding smoking. The health groups, including the American Lung Association assisted in the drafting and passing of SB2707. SB2707 in no way “weakened” the Smoke Free Illinois Act. Still today, the Smoke Free Illinois Act is the strongest smoke free law in the nation.


  30. - anon2 - Tuesday, Dec 19, 17 @ 6:45 pm:

    I realize Sen. Raoul ultimately voted for the act, but that was after he had opposed the notion. My point is that he was responsive to the tobacco lobby years ago, even though he got on the smoke-free train before it left the station.


  31. - She's not there - Tuesday, Dec 19, 17 @ 9:28 pm:

    Does the lung association believe candidates for AG should keep money from Tobacco companies involved an AG office arbitration?


  32. - Moist von Lipwig - Tuesday, Dec 19, 17 @ 11:00 pm:

    ==Does the lung association believe candidates for AG should keep money from Tobacco companies involved an AG office arbitration?==

    Apparently so, since they jump in unprovoked to defend someone who takes massive amounts of tobacco money. It’s as if CUB defended politicians who took huge amounts of $$$ from ComEd.


  33. - Anon - Wednesday, Dec 20, 17 @ 7:57 am:

    **I’ll never understand why the insider Illinois young liberal crowd loves Kwame.**

    I totally agree, especially in a race where there are so many candidates, everyone can basically pick their own. I don’t get it at all.


  34. - Anonymous - Thursday, Dec 21, 17 @ 10:53 am:

    DarkHorse- “…Raoul is so overrated.”

    That comment sums it up totally. Nancy Rotering is a bit off base re. Raoul & the NRA. When Raoul chaired the senate judidiary committee in 2013 during the passage of Rep. Brandon Phelps concealed carry bill, he didn’t lift a finger to remove the Duty to Inform provision that was opposed in the house by LaShawn Ford, Chris Welch, and Will Davis because of the danger to the black community from police (see Philando Castile in Minnesota).

    How is Raoul the great Hyde Park progressive if he was in bed with cop worshipers from southern Illinois like Gary Forby and Brandon Phelps? Raoul is a black good old boy who’s in the pocket of the police unions, working against the interests of working class black people.


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