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.