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Question of the day

Tuesday, Feb 6, 2018

* SJ-R

The Democrats vying to succeed Attorney General Lisa Madigan fought it out at a forum in Springfield Monday night, agreeing on most of the substantive issues while sniping at one another over campaign contributions and perceived conflicts of interest.

The mood at the forum, hosted by the Illinois Democratic County Chairs’ Association at The Hoogland Center for the Arts, was cordial for most of the night but grew heated as the crowded field sought to differentiate themselves from one another.

Chicago Park District board president Jesse Ruiz was on the defensive for admittedly accepting donations from utility companies such as Exelon, ComEd and People’s Gas. Ruiz, who said his job reading meters for the latter company helped put him through college, said he’s “glad they have faith and confidence in my leadership.”

However, Ruiz said that he’s “never pulled a punch on anybody” because of a campaign contribution or past political support, pointing to his calls for then-Chicago Public Schools CEO Forrest Claypool, an ally of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, to resign.

Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering, who also has accepted donations from utility companies in the past, said she needs to raise funds to get her name out, but the money has never affected a decision she’s made.

* The Question: How important to you are these debates about fundraising sources? Make sure to explain your response.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

15 Comments
  1. - Anon0091 - Tuesday, Feb 6, 18 @ 3:56 pm:

    Candidates gotta raise $$$$. That’s the reality of politics. It’s a problem when there’s an actual conflict such as the tobacco thing with Kwame. Beyond that, meh.


  2. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Feb 6, 18 @ 3:57 pm:

    I attended last night’s forum. The actual issue of the contributions would not have been a big deal if those who took them didnt try so hard to explain why they accepted them. I walked away not trusting Ruiz or Rotering. That was the consensus of those around me as well. Neither is ready for prime time.


  3. - Chicagonk - Tuesday, Feb 6, 18 @ 3:58 pm:

    I think that they are important. Utility companies aren’t donating these funds just because they have cash burning in their pockets. At the very least, it keeps candidates on their toes.


  4. - On the ritz - Tuesday, Feb 6, 18 @ 4:07 pm:

    What else is there to debate with this crowd? Personal histories and funding sources are the only differences.


  5. - Anon - Tuesday, Feb 6, 18 @ 4:15 pm:

    Rotering’s claim that a utility just called her up and offered her money “much to her surprise” was laughable.


  6. - DuPage Saint - Tuesday, Feb 6, 18 @ 4:18 pm:

    Not important at all. Wish the amounts and donators had to be printed on every campaign flier handed out by/ for each candidate though


  7. - Annonin' - Tuesday, Feb 6, 18 @ 4:21 pm:

    Odd this item has been up about 45 minutes, before the workforce heads for the lots and there seems to be zilch interest


  8. - Last Bull Moose - Tuesday, Feb 6, 18 @ 4:22 pm:

    If I think they can be rented, who pays the rent is important.

    If they can be rented for commercial reasons, that is a problem. Taking money from policy allies is not a problem. Though The policies may shift my vote.


  9. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Feb 6, 18 @ 4:23 pm:

    Significant importance. I’m worried about an AG candidate who’s taken a lot of utility money and then brags about how it shows they have “faith and confidence in his leadership.”

    I’d rather utilities were worried about you turning over rocks in their yards.


  10. - Nishi - Tuesday, Feb 6, 18 @ 4:24 pm:

    I think for me it is important because of the office for which they are running.


  11. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Feb 6, 18 @ 4:25 pm:

    Fundraising and the who and the what when it comes to funding is important to me only in that there is full disclosure, and I can then choose to support or not support a candidate with those disclosures in the open.

    I won’t be voting in the Dem primary but I know that criteria carries over for me for all elections, so even here, I hope that full disclosure is there and it’s important to me.


  12. - Chicago_Downstater - Tuesday, Feb 6, 18 @ 4:26 pm:

    I’m with Anon0091. Until there’s a fix for money in politics it’s just the way of things. Besides, as we’ve seen, it’s not like being rich enough to self-fund your campaign guarantees you aren’t down for the take or a ideological nut job.


  13. - Actual Red - Tuesday, Feb 6, 18 @ 4:52 pm:

    Campaign contributions play a role in policy decisions. They may not be the only factor, but the fact is that politician has to get on the phone at some point to solicit the money or ask for a renewal. Big donations buy time and therefore influence. Not necessarily a dealbreaker, but they ought to be considered when you cast your vote.


  14. - Angel's Sword - Tuesday, Feb 6, 18 @ 5:02 pm:

    It matters a bit. If a candidate is getting a sizeable amount of their funding from companies I don’t like then it makes me suspicious they’ll owe those companies favors I wouldn’t want them to be given.

    However, it has to be a lot of money before I care, and even then I think looking at a politician’s record is a lot more important. In this particular case, I don’t care at all. Neither side of this Raoul-Ruiz feud has put forward anything convincing me the other is ‘bought.’ I’d be happy with either as the nominee.


  15. - buffalo soldier - Tuesday, Feb 6, 18 @ 9:44 pm:

    No one is pure when it comes to money in politics. However, if a rival campaign can show the “quid pro quo” of a candidate’s action/inaction following a campaign donation, that lends credibility to attack that candidate’s character. It is tough to show that quid pro quo if the individual has not been elected/served. But, a moderator of these debates could put the issue to rest with this type of question:

    “Candidate _____, according to recent filings, ________ has given you $______ for your campaign. While it’s presumed that you like the person/entity that gave you money, can you tell the voters something truly critical or concerning about that person/entity? If not, why not?”

    I think I’ve seen Carol Marin do something like this before. As campaign finances are a public matter, it is 100% game for a discussion.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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