Q3 Fundraising Totals

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At the end of the last three quarterly filing periods I ran the numbers and put together the fundraising totals for the General Assembly candidates, caucus committees, state parties and other relevant committees, for example here is last quarter’s.

For Q3 though I’m not going to do that for two reasons 1) money is moving so fast and so much of it has already moved since 10/1 that those figures are way out of date at this point so it would be trivia more than data and 2) so much money in those totals that looks like funds raised or funds spent was neither, it was just funds transferred from committee to committee which creates artificially large numbers. For example, the Governor transferred $20 million to the Illinois Republican Party who spent some of that and transferred the rest to the House Republican Organization and the Republican State Senate Campaign Committee who spent some of that and transferred the rest to their member committees. If you start adding all of that up it may look like $40 or $60 million raised and spent when it was the same $20 million moving around. The only way to correct for that is to pull up every expenditure for the quarter and go through them one by one to exclude the ones that were just transfers, a labor intensive and time consuming task that’s a poor use of time in mid-October of an election year.

I do plan to do that work after the Q4 filings are in so we can figure out a best estimate for what this whole process really cost, it just doesn’t make sense to do that now with so much financial activity still ongoing. It will take some effort but we’ll know in mid to late January next year.


How the Money Moves, Part 3

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In yesterday’s installment, How the Money Moves, Part 2, the last thing I wrote was “Also, it’s unlikely that this is our last unexpected development before the election. Stay tuned.” It took less than 20 minutes for that to come true.

Last night the Governor’s Independent Expenditure committee, Turnaround Illinois, filed a B-1 disclosing independent expenditures totaling $101,843.15 for radio ads supporting House Republican Leader Jim Durkin, who is unopposed this fall. When an IE committee makes independent expenditures supporting or opposing a candidate in a race in amounts greater than certain limits ($250,000 for a statewide race, $100,000 for all other races) the contribution limits are lifted for all candidates in that race. Section 5/9-8.5 (h-5) and (h-10) of the election code govern this process, neither specify that an opponent is necessary in order to lift the caps and I could find no other section of the election code that made an opponent a requirement to lift the caps. It appears that even though Leader Durkin is unopposed, this action will lift the caps in his race and his campaign committee will be able to raise unlimited funds for the rest of the year. As we’ve mentioned before in a general election candidate committees are allowed to make unlimited transfers to party committees who can then make unlimited transfers to candidate committees so leader Durkin will be able to transfer unlimited amounts to either the Illinois Republican Party or the House Republican Organization (HRO is registerd as a party committee) who can then spend or transfer that money in unlimited amounts on other legislative races as they wish.

Turnaround Illinois was created in April of 2015 by the Governor and his allies. Its chairperson is the CFO from the Governor’s campaign and its treasurer is his campaign’s chief legal counsel. Since inception the committee has raised $6.25 million, $4 million from former Chicago Tribune owner Sam Zell and $2.25 million from Bruce Rauner’s personal funds. The Governor spent the last few months touring the state in support of term limits which was accompanied by a television campaign, those TV ads were paid for by the Turnaround Illinois independent expenditure committee.

If the sole intention here was to lift the contribution limits for Leader Durkin they chose the more expensive of two available routes. The caps can be lifted either due to independent expenditure spending or self funding, Leader Durkin could have loaned his campaign $100,000 and then paid it back the very next day and those actions would have been sufficient to lift the caps in this race. However in this instance Turnaround Illinois spent $100,000 on radio ads supporting Leader Durkin, who is unopposed, so that $100,000 spent will likely have very little ancillary benefit.

This may be the most direct example to circumvent the contribution limits so far but it’s probably not the strangest. In the 2015 Chicago Mayor’s race William Kelly loaned himself $100,000 and filed a Notification of Self Funding which lifted the caps for the Mayor’s race, but then he never even filed the paperwork to run for Mayor so the caps were lifted for a race he didn’t even officially participate in.

If the contribution limits are lifted for Leader Durkin’s campaign committee his would be the only one of the four legislative leaders’ campaign committees that can raise unlimited funds, but this isn’t the first time that has happened either. During the 2016 Democratic primary Speaker Madigan had three opponents for his 22nd district House seat. Former 2004 Democratic US Senate candidate Blair Hull and some of his wealthy allies funded an IE committee Illinois United for Change and that committee eventually made more than $100,000 in independent expenditures opposing Mike Madigan or supporting Jason Gonzales (their preferred candidate) and for the final two weeks of the primary Speaker Madigan’s campaign committee, Friends of Michael J. Madigan, was legally allowed to accept unlimited contributions. The odd thing is that during those two weeks the Speaker did not receive any contributions that were above the standard contribution limits.

Update: The contribution limits for Leader Durkin have been officially lifted.


How the Money Moves, Part 2

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In the previous How the Money Moves I mentioned that it seemed likely Comptroller Leslie Munger would receive significant funding soon based upon how little financial activity her committee had shown up to that point. Since that time there were two key developments, neither unexpected: 1) Munger’s committee received a loan of $260,000, enough to lift the contribution limits for this race, and 2) late last week she received $2 million from Richard Uihlein and $3 million from Ken Griffin, two of the Governor’s wealthy allies.

Combined with the $280K Munger had on hand on 6/30 these new contributions gave her an estimated $5.5 million to spend in the homestretch of her campaign, much less than you’d typically see in a top ballot statewide race like Governor or US Senator but along the higher end for the other statewide constitutional offices. With her new ad on TV it was reasonable to assume that this money would be used to fund her fall budget.

However today there was an unexpected development, the Illinois Republican Party filed two A-1’s (here and here) for transfers totaling $3 million from Munger to the State Party. Here are a few possible explanations:


Possible Explanation #1

It’s possible that she is transferring this money to the State Party to fund a mail budget. State Parties pay a lower postage rate, that’s why you so often see General Assembly candidates file A-1’s with in-kind contributions for mail from the State Party. However in this case this seems somewhat unlikely, she’s already up on TV with her ad and $3 million seems like an awfully large mail budget. It’s very common for statewide campaigns to have mail in addition to TV, especially in those media markets where the candidate isn’t up on TV, but usually not at this level or at this proportion.


Possible Explanation #2

It’s possible that in order to keep staffing costs low she’s outsourcing some of her campaign activities to the State Party, where some of the Governor’s top political staffers are employed, and she’s transferring part of her budget to their control. If that’s the case this transfer would seem like an unnecessary step, her campaign and the State Party are allowed to fully coordinate strategy and tactics and her campaign committee could have easily paid any campaign expenditures that were needed.


Possible Explanation #3

Another very likely possibility is that her campaign committee is being used as an entryway to get unlimited contributions into the system where that money can then move freely around to be spent on other races. I discussed the need for entryways in my previous post. The House Dems have had a number of large donors, particularly in labor and legal, who are willing to contribute more than the maximum amount so they’ve had to break up those contributions into the amounts permitted by contribution limits and then contribute those amounts to as many Democratic affiliated committees as necessary to get all the money in the system. In a general election candidate committees can make unlimited transfers to party committees and party committees can make unlimited transfers to candidate committees so once that money is in the system the candidate committees with surplus funds can either transfer those funds to their fellow candidates up to the limited amount or they can make unlimited transfers to their party committee where the funds can then be redistributed in unlimited amounts to other candidates in need.

However in this case the contribution limits are off for the Comptroller’s race because of the $260,000 loan Munger received from her husband. Munger (and Mendoza) can accept contributions in unlimited amounts and if they so choose they can then make unlimited transfers to the party committee who can then spend or transfer unlimited amounts on other candidates, such as targeted general assembly races.

Prior to last week the Governor had been almost single-handedly funding the Republican legislative effort. The only other significant pool of money was in the Independent Expenditure committee Liberty Principles PAC which had raised $5 million since June, $2.5 million from Governor Rauner personally, $1.5 million from Richard Uihlein and $1 million from Ken Griffin. However the funds in the IE committee are somewhat walled off, independent expenditure committees are not allowed to transfer funds to candidate or party committees so if these donors wanted to use their money to help legislative candidates they could only do so by making expenditures independently. But now that the contribution limits have been lifted in the Comptroller’s race they can make direct unlimited contributions to Munger who can then transfer that money to the party as needed and it can be put to use elsewhere.

Just because Munger transferred $3 million to the State Party today doesn’t mean she won’t get additional financial support later to supplement her campaign budget, she may still very well spend $5.5 million on her fall effort if additional contributions are received. Also, it’s unlikely that this is our last unexpected development before the election. Stay tuned.

Data Update: Real-Time Data

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As you know I download the State Board’s data files every night. In most cases my data is current as of 9pm the night before. Usually the way this works is that the State Board makes a copy of their data available every night at 9pm and puts it on their FTP server and sometime around 2am my server copies those files and runs an update that lasts about 30-60 minutes and that’s how I display my data.

However the SBE also has a new filings list and makes that available in XML. I’ve been pulling each of those new filings and testing that download for a while now. For example this is the same page as their new filings page but with totals.

I’ve set it up so that my server now updates all of this data in real time. When it reads an A-1 or a B-1 it updates the data files with that info. So for example, last night Dale Fowler filed this A-1 at 10:59pm which is well past the 9pm cutoff (usually) for my data. Normally it would take a day before that showed up in my files (actually 2 because the SBE update doesn’t run on Saturday nights). Instead now it shows up right away in his financial profile and the race totals are also up to date. The only thing I can’t update in real time are D-2’s, in theory I could update the totals but I can’t get the itemized contributions and expenditures until I get those data files so it’s not worth pinging the SBE server so many times for so little benefit.

I tested this for a week before I put it live so I’m hopeful that this is working correctly but we’re coming up on the end of the quarter and the election isn’t too far away so it’s important to get things right. Please, please, please, if you see any errors or mistakes please let me know right away so I can correct them. There’s no worse feeling than getting facts wrong, I’m not that bright and I need all the help I can get.

Thank you


How the Money Moves

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Prior to Illinois contribution limits taking effect in January 2011 the four legislative leaders raised as much money as they could into their own personal committees and often a caucus or party committee and then each legislative candidate raised what they could in their own candidate committees and that’s how you could track the legislative elections.

But now with the contribution limit law in place the process is much more complicated. Our contribution limit law doesn’t actually limit the amount of money that comes into our political system, since the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision there probably is no fair way to design a law that would effectively limit the money, but our Illinois law is still in place so in order to move money through our system first the money has to come in through a much more complex but still legal process. Here’s an explanation for how the money entered the system and is now moving through it for General Assembly races this cycle.


How the Republicans Are Doing It

Much of the Republican effort is being funded by the Governor. Of the $16,924,996 raised so far this cycle by the Illinois Republican Party $16,071,600 has come from either the Governor personally, his wife or his campaign fund, Citizens for Rauner.

Committee Cycle Total From Rauner Pct
Illinois Republican Party $16,924,996 $16,071,600 95%

Most of that money is being passed through to the two Republican caucus committees, the House Republican Organization (HRO) and the Republican State Senate Campaign Committee (RSSCC).

Committee Cycle Total From State Party Pct
House Republican Organization $11,257,997 $10,095,000 90%
Republican State Senate Campaign Committee $3,585,919 $2,193,000 61%
Combined $14,843,916 $12,288,000 83%

Only about $2.5 million of the roughly $14.8 million that the two Republican caucuses have received this cycle came from donors other than the State Party. The two caucus leaders each have their own candidate committee Citizens for Durkin ($1,452,457) and Citizens for Christine Radogno ($958,754). So for the 2016 cycle the combined total donations for the State Party, HRO, RSSCC, Citizens for Durkin and Citizens for Christine Radogno comes to about $16 million from Rauner and about $5.8 million from all other sources, this is an operation largely funded by Rauner with probably much more to come.


How Did He Do It?

Most of the Rauner money came via his campaign committee Citizens for Rauner, and most of that came in just a few large donations. During the 2014 election Bruce Rauner had personally contributed enough money to his own campaign to lift the contribution limits in the Governor’s race and that exemption from limits remained in effect until December 31st of that year. On 12/31/14 he filed this A-1 which included a $10 million contribution from himself, $8 million from Ken Griffin and $2 million from Richard Uihlein and his year end report showed his campaign fund with a balance of $20.2 million heading into the start of the 2016 cycle.

Starting in January of 2015 Rauner’s campaign committee could no longer accept unlimited donations from donors like Griffin and Uihlein but he was still able to personally contribute unlimited sums and doing so did not lift the caps for the upcoming Governor’s race because it is still more than 12 months before the next gubernatorial election (5/9-8.5 (h)). So far this cycle Rauner has personally given his campaign committee $2,550,000 in cash plus another $200,000 in-kind for data analysis, also he did refund himself $300,000 as well.

In a general election candidate committees are allowed to make unlimited transfers to party committees, and vice versa. The Illinois Republican Party, HRO and the RSSCC are all classified as party committees so Citizens for Rauner can legally transfer as much as it would like to any of the three during this general election period and then those party committees can contribute unlimited amounts to any of their other allied candidates either through direct transfers or in-kind contributions. Citizens for Rauner started the cycle with $20 million in the bank and added over $2 million more and has already transferred $16 million to the Illinois Republican Party to fund this legislative effort. While it’s barely even Labor Day much of that money is already being spent on legislative campaigns.

District Candidate Party State Party Leadership Total
Rep-20 Michael McAuliffe (i) R $28,005.00 $915,898.06 $943,903.06
Sen-31 Melinda Bush (i) D $0.00 $463,981.42 $463,981.42
Rep-62 Rod Drobinski R $30,771.00 $427,847.44 $458,618.44
Sen-31 Mike Amrozowicz R $55,554.00 $402,968.70 $458,522.70
Rep-71 Tony McCombie R $19,160.12 $434,298.81 $453,458.93
Sen-23 Seth Lewis R $54,672.00 $393,895.52 $448,567.52
Rep-62 Sam Yingling (i) D $31,182.51 $369,243.20 $400,425.71
Sen-59 Gary Forby (i) D $0.00 $400,330.49 $400,330.49
Rep-111 Mike Babcock R $17,938.32 $374,536.55 $392,474.87
Rep-76 Jerry Long R $35,874.00 $274,660.00 $310,534.00
Rep-112 Dwight Kay (i) R $54,501.60 $232,852.99 $287,354.59
Sen-38 Sue Rezin (i) R $40,006.00 $246,459.60 $286,465.60
Rep-45 Christine Winger (i) R $54,655.00 $223,693.08 $278,348.08
Rep-61 Sheri Jesiel (i) R $18,173.61 $208,395.60 $226,569.21
Sen-59 Dale Fowler R $15,890.76 $204,942.62 $220,833.38
Sen-23 Thomas Cullerton (i) D $0.00 $216,759.30 $216,759.30
Rep-95 Avery Bourne (i) R $61,398.53 $147,514.04 $208,912.57
Rep-115 Terri Bryant (i) R $63,028.69 $137,951.81 $200,980.50
Rep-117 David Severin R $0.00 $199,010.39 $199,010.39
Rep-56 Jillian Bernas R $31,569.00 $155,628.82 $187,197.82

This table shows the top 20 races (as of 9pm Sept 6th) for funding that has either come from the state party or a leadership committee and 16 of the top 20 are Republican campaigns. Lots of money, lots of early money is being funneled to Republican legislative campaigns already.

You’ll notice that of the four Democrats listed above only one is from the House despite the fact that far more of the contested races are in the House, that is not an accident. The way the Democrats are managing their money is quite a bit different, especially in the House.


How the Democrats Are Doing It

You might expect that since the Dems couldn’t match the $20 million in unlimited donations Rauner received on New Year’s Eve 2014 and don’t have his personal wealth they can’t match the Republicans this cycle but as of the last quarterly filings that’s actually not the case. The combined June 30th cash on hand for all the Democratic committees was about $36 million compared to about $32.6 million for the Republicans (including the Rauner funds). On the Democratic side the money isn’t as consolidated in leadership, at least not yet. Of the four committees controlled by the Speaker (Democratic Party of Illinois, Democratic Majority, Friends of Michael J. Madigan and 13th Ward Democratic Organization) the combined 6/30 cash on hand was $7.8 million. The three committees Cullerton controls (Illinois Senate Democratic Victory Fund, Citizens for John Cullerton for State Senate and Committee to Support John Cullerton for State Central Committeeman) had a combined 6/30 cash on hand of $5.7 million.

But where the real cash advantage lies for the Democrats is in the individual candidate committees. Not including leadership Democratic Senate candidate committees had a combined 6/30 cash on hand of $5.6 million, compared to just $1.7 million for Republican Senate candidate committees. In the House the Democratic candidate committees had an eye popping combined 6/30 cash on hand of $13.4 million compared to $5.6 million for Republican candidate committees. Again, those figures don’t include the four legislative leaders.


How Did They Do It?

For the most part the Democrats didn’t have the ability to receive unlimited funds into one committee the way Rauner did (there are some exceptions to this statement that weren’t utilized, like this one, I won’t bore you with the details) so instead they had to get the money into their political system through as many entryways as possible. For the Democrats much of that took place in the 4th quarter of 2015. The Democrats focused heavily on their allies in labor and the legal community to raise large sums and when those donors could not give any more to leadership they gave to various candidate committees, particularly those that appeared to be likely targets for 2016 and especially in the House. In Q4 2015 (link is for a downloadable spreadsheet) not including the four legislative leaders 19 Democratic General Assembly candidate committees raised over $100K (14 House, 5 Senate) compared to only one Republican Jil Tracy ($105K). Some of those prolific fundraisers, like Lou Lang ($132K) and John Bradley ($523K), are statehouse veterans who have worked on many issues and have had the opportunity to build numerous allies over the years so it isn’t necessarily surprising to see them with strong fundraising numbers. However many of the others are relative newcomers and it’s clear that the vast sums of money they were raising probably weren’t solely the result of their own efforts.

In the days before contribution limits the individual candidate committees were largely under the control of the individual candidates themselves. At times they may have been given direction by leadership and they were certainly asked to kick in and help the caucus when they could afford to do so (like the Republicans just recently did), but they still largely had financial control over their own committees. Under this new model it appears that some of the House Dems, the targets in particular, have given up that independence for more of a team approach. Each of these candidate committees that are sitting on large cash balances can make unlimited transfers to leadership if those funds aren’t needed it seems likely that leadership will instruct them to do so. It’s a model that offers these targeted candidates some peace of mind knowing that, if necessary, funds from elsewhere will be shifted to help them in their races and it gives leadership control over a much greater pool of funds, and in a contribution limit environment each fund is an additional entryway.

The Republicans are spending their money earlier than the Dems this cycle, even in the races where you can compare apples to apples that is no doubt true. But it’s also true that you’re seeing more financial reporting on the Republican side because the way the Republicans and Democrats are moving the money is different and those methods have different reporting requirements. For example, when Rauner transfers money to the State Party he won’t have to disclose that expenditure until the next quarterly report is filed on 10/15 but the State Party has to disclose receiving that contribution within 5 business days so we see that transaction. Then when the State Party transfers those funds to a caucus committee the same scenario applies and the same when that caucus committee transfers it to a candidate. However on the Democrats’ side much of that money is already in the individual candidate committees so any expenditures those candidate committees make won’t be disclosed until 10/15 when the 3rd quarter filings are due. In some of the most hotly contested races, like the four that appear in the table above (Yingling in the House; Bush, Forby and Cullerton in the Senate) the Democratic leadership has already started spending there and we are seeing those transfers or in-kinds, elsewhere it’s happening under the radar.

Soon the Democrats are going to start consolidating their funds into leadership. In the House you’ll likely see transfers from some of the flush campaign committees that don’t appear to have much of a race, in the Senate you’ll likely see the same from some of the more financially secure members that aren’t on the ballot this cycle. It’s only a matter of time and I’m surprised we haven’t seen some of it already.


The Comptroller’s Race

I’m surprised by how little financial activity there has been in the Comptroller’s race. It’s not one of the traditionally prominent statewide offices but because of the circumstances this year it’s been given far more attention than usual.

On June 30th Democrat Susanna Mendoza reported $1.3 million on hand but has reported only $39,000 since. Republican Leslie Munger had a June 30th cash on hand of $282K and has raised only $16,000 since. When Munger raised $111K in the 2nd quarter of 2015 it was the only time this cycle that she raised six figures, many General Assembly candidates are outraising her.

Mendoza will need quite a bit more money than she has so far. Looking at Frerichs 2014 as a comparable, he raised about $2.5 million in 2013 & 2014 and put about $1.6 million of that on TV, including buying $1.1 million worth of TV time in late August which were likely advance payments for airtime later in the cycle. We are already past late August, she has some catching up to do if she wants to run a campaign similar to what Frerichs ran.

It’s hard to tell what Munger is going to do but it doesn’t appear that she’s going to raise money the old fashioned way. Perhaps she has some personal wealth that she’s waiting to put in, perhaps she has a commitment from the Governor for a large sum, perhaps she’s expecting that some outside groups will spend enough to lift the contribution limits and then a handful of deep-pocket donors will kick in large sums or perhaps it’s a combination of the three. There must be some plan because you can’t run statewide on $282K, you can’t really even run a competitive House race on that little anymore.


The Others

Because it’s easier to move unlimited sums around in a general election and the battle lines are more clear there is much less of a need for Independent Expenditure committees in the fall, but that doesn’t mean we won’t see any. Personal PAC has added $125K to their IE since June 30th when they had $580K on hand. The Governor’s IE, Turnaround Illinois, had $2.2 million as of June 30th. And Liberty Principles, the conservative IE that played a big part in Republican primaries, has added $1 million to the $4 million they reported on June 30th.

We know what Turnaround Illinois is going to be used for. It has been paying for the Governor’s commercials on term limits that you have been seeing on TV since the Olympics. Despite his odd protestations to the contrary the Governor has been travelling the state campaigning on this issue and using his IE to pay for the corresponding TV ads.

It’s less clear what Liberty Principles will be used for. Since June they’ve received $2.5 million from Bruce Rauner personally, $1.5 million from long time benefactor Richard Uihlein and $1 million from Rauner ally Ken Griffin. All that money must have some purpose but so far they haven’t shown their hand. Maybe it will be used to supplement the Rauner/State Party money in General Assembly races, maybe it will be used to help Munger, maybe it will be used to reach the threshold to lift the contribution limits in key races so Rauner and other wealthy allies can pour in even more money or maybe it’s for some other purpose we haven’t even thought of yet. Whatever it is it will have to be done independently, the one rule that emerged from the Citizens United ruling is that they cannot coordinate with the candidates and according to state law these funds are now walled off and cannot be contributed to other candidate committees, party committees or PACs.

Follow along on our Twitter feed and you will be able to see all of the above play out in real time.


Putting His Money Where His Mouth Is

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On New Year’s Eve 2014, after winning election but prior to taking office, then Governor-elect Rauner replenished his nearly depleted candidate committee, Citizens for Rauner, with $20 million. The Governor put in $10 million of his own money and also received contributions of $8 million from Ken Griffin and $2 million from Richard Uihlein. Here is what one Rauner advisor told Crain’s Greg Hinz at the time:

“There are a lot of legislators who he is going to be asking to make a lot of tough decisions,” said one Rauner insider who asked not to be named. “The intent is to build a large and effective political operation in order to pursue his agenda.” Some of the money may be donated directly to legislators’ campaign committees and other funds spent on their behalf. TV ads, polling and other activity on behalf of Rauner policies also is expected, the insider said. And the war chest only is “the first in a series,” part of a “multipronged effort” in which other funding vehicles will be formed, the source said. “This is the tip of the iceberg.”

Since that time the Governor has personally contributed another $2.75 million to his campaign fund and with an expected contested re-election campaign looming many wondered just how much of that money he would spend on General Assembly races versus how much he would save for 2018. It’s only August but the answer is already clear, the Governor will spend most or possibly all of that money to help elect fellow Republicans.

Because of campaign finance limits the Governor’s campaign committee cannot transfer unlimited sums to Republican General Assembly candidates directly, however during a general election candidate committees, such as Citizens for Rauner, are allowed to make unlimited transfers to party committees, such as the Illinois Republican Party, and Rauner has done just that. Yesterday Citizens for Rauner transferred another $5 million to the Illinois Republican Party bringing the total to just over $16 million for the 2016 cycle. Rauner’s campaign committee, which started 2015 with about $20 million in the bank is now down to just around $5 million remaining. It’s probably a sign of the times and the record amounts of money involved that we can casually use the phrase “just around $5 million remaining”.

And while the Illinois Republican Party has spent some of that money directly, for example they’ve had about a half million in in-kinds and about $1.4 million in independent expenditures for Republican candidates this cycle, most of the money is being transferred to the two General Assembly Republican leadership committees: the House Republican Organization (HRO) and the Republican State Senate Campaign Committee (RSSCC). Already HRO has received a little over $9 million from the Illinois Republican Party and just this morning the RSSCC received another $500K bringing their cycle total to about $1.7 million. So between in-kinds, independent expenditures and transfers to the two leadership committees the state party has already moved or spent $12.6 million of the $16 million they’ve received from Rauner, and remember the most recent transfer of $5 million from the Governor to the state party happened just yesterday.

Campaign funds are not the Governor’s only contribution to this effort. The Governor has promised the “biggest ground game ever” for legislative races this fall. Back in May the Governor personally paid $200K to Crowdskout, LLC, a data management and marketing platform. This expenditure was likely for a data enhancement on the Republican voterfile to allow for greater voter demographic targeting, something the Democrats and the Obama campaign in particular had received extensive attention for in the past.

On a number of occasions the Governor has promised to transform the party and make Illinois Republicans competitive again but oddly enough the other day when asked about his significant contributions this cycle and his involvement in winning more seats for Republicans in the General Assembly he told reporters “I’m not too involved in local races.” The Governor’s occasional odd comment notwithstanding, he promised to contribute significant resources for party building and so far he’s kept that commitment.


McHenry and St. Clair County Board Chairman Races

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I don’t have the bandwidth to provide resources for all local races but I do want to highlight two current county board chairman races in two of the state’s bigger counties which have had a number of interesting developments, each in some way connected to a local state rep race.


McHenry County

Let’s start with McHenry County. This year will be the first time that the county board chairman in McHenry County is popularly elected, in the past the chairman was selected by the county board, a change that had been advocated by State Rep. Jack Franks.

In the Republican primary Michael Walkup defeated incumbent board chairman Joseph Gottemoller by 3 points, 51.5% to 48.5%. No Democratic candidates filed to run for county board chairman in the primary so it was thought that Walkup would be unopposed in the fall for the general election. However veteran State Rep. Jack Franks decided to give up his state house seat and run for the post so the local county party appointed him to the empty slot.

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Despite coming from an overwhelmingly Republican area Jack Franks has been quite successful for a Democrat. In 2014 he won his state rep district by 17 points even though Rauner beat Quinn in the district by 34 points. If Franks hopes to win the county board race he’s going to need the same level of significantly outperforming other Democrats on the ballot. In 2012 Romney beat Obama by 9 points in the county and Rauner won it in 2014 by 35 points. Democrats can win here, Obama beat McCain in 2008 by 5 points, it’s just uncommon.

The one advantage Franks does have is in the fundraising department. He finished June with almost $575K in cash and investments. He has since added another $45K but $35K of it appears to be just converting his investments to cash. Walkup, on the other hand, had less than $2K at the end of June and has only added about $12K since, leaving him at a significant cash disadvantage.

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Other Notable Committees:


St. Clair County

The St. Clair County Board chairman’s race is interesting because of a man whose name will not appear on the ballot, at least not for this race, Bob Romanik. Romanik is the Republican candidate for State Representative in the 114th district (map) which runs from East St. Louis west to Scott Air Force Base. Romanik is a local radio host who is known for being outspoken and colorful, to put it diplomatically.

Romanik is no fan of current Democratic county board chairman Mark Kern and he’s paid for a series of local billboards to demonstrate as such:

Lately, though, Romanik has gained the attention of local media with his billboards in the Belleville community, which comically lambast St. Clair County Board Chairman Mark Kern.

His current billboard pictures Kern in a bikini with the caption “Mark ‘Sweetcakes’ Kern should have been a stripper. He’s already stripped us of our tax dollars!”

A previous Romanik billboard captured Kern alongside a clown and boldly asked: “Bozo and Mark ‘Sweetcakes’ Kern; who is the biggest clown in town?”

Yet another billboard during the Christmas season pictured Kern alongside an image of a Sasquatch (described as Kern’s wife, Erin) and declared, “We really don’t care if you have a happy holiday, because we’re rich idiots. We are really bottom feeders.”

Romanik was even charged but acquitted for trespassing at Kern’s home.

What makes Romanik interesting is not his rhetoric but his money. He put $2 million of his own money into his campaign fund and pledged to spend it not only on his own race but on other local races as well. Considering his confrontational past with Kern there is significant speculation that some of that money could be spent against Kern. Kern is apparently taking the possibility seriously, he just raised $100K from two family members, an action which lifted the contribution limits for this race.

Almost lost in all of this is Kern’s actual Republican opponent for county board chairman, Rodger Cook. Cook can now raise funds in unlimited amounts but so far he’s only raised about $2K for the entire 2016 cycle and he had less than $200 in the bank at the end of June.

While Cook’s fundraising has been anemic he likely won’t be the recipient of Romanik’s funds, at least not directly. In April the St. Clair County Republican Party voted to censure and rebuke Romanik using strong, clear language. Through a weird quirk in the SCCRCC website you can see their press release on the censure here. The party makes clear that they will not support Romanik and not accept his money, and that would presumably apply to Cook as well, even though he may be the beneficiary of whatever anti-Kern spending Romanik does undertake. St. Clair County politics will likely be interesting this fall, no matter what.

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Cook will have his work cut out for him, St. Clair County has been reliably Democratic and this is a presidential election year. Rauner, Topinka and Cross all managed to win the county in 2014 so it is possible for Republicans to have success here but Quinn won the county in 2010 and Obama won it by 22 and 14 points in 2008 and 2012, respectively. 2016 is not expected to be as favorable for the Republicans as 2014 was so Cook will need a lot to work in his favor if he’s going to be successful.

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Race Profiles Available

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A few updates:

  • Race profiles are now available for every General Assembly district, not just the likely targeted races. Since it now loads 177 races give the page a minute to load.
  • I’ve also created something similar for the Comptroller’s race. Aside from the preview there is also a financial profile plus all of the historical vote totals for statewide general elections since 1990.
  • Using the new FEC API I was able to create profiles for all of the Illinois Congressional races as well.
  • Last, using the FEC API I have created a profile page for the US Senate race. Aside from the preview there is also a financial profile plus all of the historical vote totals for statewide general elections since 1990.


Embed Your Own Election Profiles

For each of the above you can embed the code for these election profiles on your own site. Use the tool here to get the embed code.


A-1 Contributions and In-Kinds Now Separate

For the General Assembly elections in a lot of key races the candidates are receiving in-kind contributions of staff and other costs from leadership and these are showing up on A-1’s. These numbers are not cash and were skewing the estimated cash available line so I’ve separated the A-1 totals into two lines.


Embed Your Own Election Profile

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If you are familiar with our election profile pages (US Senate, Comptroller, Congress, General Assembly) you can now embed these profiles into your own page/site. For the statewide races you can embed the candidates’ financial position. For the congressional and general assembly races you can embed the whole profile or just the candidates’ financial position. Use the dropdowns below to select the race/type you want and get the embed code. If the size doesn’t look right on your site feel free to adjust the height/width values in the iframe.


The General Assembly and Comptroller financial data are downloaded each night from the State Board of Elections and are current as of 9pm last night. The US Senate and Congressional race financial data is taken from the FEC API. See the FAQ for further details about this financial data.


Statewide Races




Congressional Races

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General Assembly Races

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A Campaign Finance Oddity

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A few weeks ago I was looking through A-1 filings and and noticed that State Senate candidate Seth Lewis was getting in-kinds from both HRO and the RSSCC, which I noted on Twitter.

Someone mentioned to me that the reason you rarely come across a situation where a candidate for the General Assembly is being financially supported by the caucus committee of both chambers is that it’s not allowed. I looked it up and this appears to be the case.

Here is the section on campaign contributions, the relevant section is highlighted:

5/9-8.5 Limitations on campaign contributions
(b) During an election cycle, a candidate political committee may not accept contributions with an aggregate value over the following: (i) $5,000 from any individual, (ii) $10,000 from any corporation, labor organization, or association, or (iii) $50,000 from a candidate political committee or political action committee. A candidate political committee may accept contributions in any amount from a political party committee except during an election cycle in which the candidate seeks nomination at a primary election. During an election cycle in which the candidate seeks nomination at a primary election, a candidate political committee may not accept contributions from political party committees with an aggregate value over the following: (i) $200,000 for a candidate political committee established to support a candidate seeking nomination to statewide office, (ii) $125,000 for a candidate political committee established to support a candidate seeking nomination to the Senate, the Supreme Court or Appellate Court in the First Judicial district, or an office elected by all voters in a county with 1,000,000 or more residents, (iii) $75,000 for a candidate political committee established to support a candidate seeking nomination to the House of Representatives, the Supreme Court or Appellate Court for a judicial district other than the First Judicial District, an office elected by all voters of a county of fewer than 1,000,000 residents, and municipal and county offices in Cook County other than those elected by all voters of Cook County, and (iv) $50,000 for a candidate political committee established to support the nomination of a candidate to any other office. A candidate political committee established to elect a candidate to the General Assembly may accept contributions from only one legislative caucus committee. A candidate political committee may not accept contributions from a ballot initiative committee or from an independent expenditure committee.

And here is the section on committee definitions, the relevant section is highlighted:

5/9-1.8. Political committees
(c) “Political party committee” means the State central committee of a political party, a county central committee of a political party, a legislative caucus committee, or a committee formed by a ward or township committeeman of a political party. For purposes of this Article, a “legislative caucus committee” means a committee established for the purpose of electing candidates to the General Assembly by the person elected President of the Senate, Minority Leader of the Senate, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, or a committee established by 5 or more members of the same caucus of the Senate or 10 or more members of the same caucus of the House of Representatives.

So far Republican Senate candidates Seth Lewis, Paul Schimpf and Dale Fowler are getting paid staff from both the Republican State Senate Campaign Committee (RSSCC) and the House Republican Organization (HRO). Now the House Republican Organization is running an ad against Democratic incumbent Senator Gary Forby, which would presumably be an in-kind contribution to the Fowler campaign, it even lists HRO in the paid-for-by at the end of the ad.

This part of the campaign finance law seems rather odd to me. Then again it also seems kind of odd to be paying for Senate campaigns out of the House caucus funds, if for no other reason than you’ll have to explain to angry House caucus members why your’re spending caucus funds on the Senate instead of their races. Either way under the current letter of the law I’m not sure this is permitted.