2016 Illinois Primary – IE Scorecard

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Spending by independent expenditure committees has been massive this primary and may continue in the general. In some races the spending by IE committees dwarfed the amounts raised by the candidates themselves. Below is a table of each of the IE committees (I did not include IE spending by party committees) and how much they spent on their favored candidates as of 9pm last night (3/14/16).

As the results go final we’ll try to keep this table up to date.

Party District Committee Name Supporting Amount Result
R Sen-58 Ballot Access Illinois Sharee Langenstein
$12,221.82
LOST
R Sen-50 Basic Crafts Council of Mid-Central IL PEF Sam McCann
$1,818.00
WON
D Sen-02 Chicagoans United for Economic Security PAC Omar Aquino
$27,651.72
WON
D Rep-26 Chicagoans United for Economic Security PAC Jay Travis
$254,938.92
LOST
R Rep-63 Government For The People Jeffery Lichte
$15,500.00
LOST
D Rep-05 Illinois Chamber IE Committee Ken Dunkin
$970,982.00
LOST
D Rep-26 Illinois Federation of Public Employees PAC Jay Travis
$1,500.00
LOST
R Sen-50 Illinois Federation of Public Employees PAC Sam McCann
$5,000.00
WON
R Rep-63 Illinois PAC for Education (IPACE) Jeffery Lichte
$12,500.00
LOST
D Cook-SA Illinois Safety & Justice Kim Foxx
$437,515.87
WON
D Rep-22 Illinois United for Change Jason Gonzales
$767,903.50
LOST
D Sen-02 IllinoisGO IE Angelica Alfaro
$96,736.64
LOST
D Rep-06 IllinoisGO IE Genita Robinson
$72,865.44
LOST
D Rep-26 IllinoisGO IE Christian Mitchell
$66,658.80
WON
D Rep-05 IllinoisGO IE Ken Dunkin
$1,581,924.70
LOST
D Sen-05 IllinoisGO IE Patricia Van Pelt
$92,989.60
WON
D Sen-02 INCS Action Independent Committee Angelica Alfaro
$33,705.00
LOST
R Rep-95 INCS Action Independent Committee Avery Bourne
$24,094.95
WON
D Sen-05 INCS Action Independent Committee Patricia Van Pelt
$25,121.34
WON
D Rep-06 INCS Action Independent Committee Genita Robinson
$25,125.12
LOST
D Rep-26 INCS Action Independent Committee Christian Mitchell
$33,573.00
WON
D Rep-29 INCS Action Independent Committee Thaddeus Jones
$19,945.88
WON
R Sen-26 Lake County Life PAC Dan McConchie
$1,000.00
WON
R Rep-66 Liberty Principles PAC Allen Skillicorn
$456,962.80
WON
R Rep-102 Liberty Principles PAC Brad Halbrook
$300,062.44
WON
R Rep-72 Liberty Principles PAC Brandi McGuire
$238,882.22
WON
R Sen-50 Liberty Principles PAC Bryce Benton
$3,075,404.33
LOST
D Rep-07 Liberty Principles PAC Chris Harris
$22,925.67
LOST
R Sen-26 Liberty Principles PAC Dan McConchie
$493,567.24
WON
R Rep-74 Liberty Principles PAC Mike DeSutter
$51,716.51
LOST
R Sen-58 Liberty Principles PAC Paul Schimpf
$87,036.15
WON
R Rep-110 Liberty Principles PAC Reggie Phillips
$108,777.33
WON
D Rep-02 National Association of REALTORS Fund Alex Acevedo
$42,411.70
LOST
R Rep-66 National Association of REALTORS Fund Carolyn Schofield
$34,725.00
LOST
D Rep-07 National Association of REALTORS Fund Chris Welch
$11,708.48
WON
D Rep-26 National Association of REALTORS Fund Christian Mitchell
$27,000.00
WON
D Rep-04 National Association of REALTORS Fund Cynthia Soto
$5,416.32
WON
D Rep-40 National Association of REALTORS Fund Jaime Andrade
$9,999.99
WON
R Sen-26 National Association of REALTORS Fund Martin McLaughlin
$42,922.72
LOST
D Sen-19 National Association of REALTORS Fund Michael Hastings
$25,298.62
WON
D Cook-SA Personal PAC Independent Committee Kim Foxx
$93,731.04
WON
D Sen-02 Stand for Children IL IEC Angelica Alfaro
$70,340.00
LOST

Tuesday’s Primary – What to Watch For

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Here’s a rundown of some of the notable state and local races for Tuesday including their financial profile. These numbers are as of 9pm last night and will update each night so if you’re reading this in a day or two they should be current.

Note: if you’re reading this now this is an old post. It used to contain live campaign spending data but that has been removed since we are now into a new quarter and the data calculation is obsolete.

Cook County State’s Attorney (D)
First, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s race. Donna More just never caught fire and most of her recent funding has come from her or her husband, if there is an enthusiasm for her campaign it hasn’t translated into recent financial filings. Alvarez the incumbent is still seeing some support, particularly with labor and some of the city’s more prominent law firms. But the candidate that has benefited most financially has been Kim Foxx. The caps are off in this race because of Donna More’s self funding and Foxx has been able to take in $600K from Fred Eychaner plus another $250K from Toni Preckwinkle. Additionally an IE with significant funding from George Soros has independently spent over half a million dollars to support her candidacy.

5th House (D)
Next is the mother of all state rep races, the 5th House. This one has already seen a record single donation for the incumbent plus an almost unprecedented endorsement of a sitting US President, for the challenger no less. Ken Dunkin has taken in $800,000 from an organization run by Dan Proft, former Republican candidate for Governor and been the beneficiary of about $2.5 million in IE spending by IllinoisGO, funded by Governor Rauner’s allies. On the other side Stratton is up to almost $2 million from mostly labor money, but also recently many of the campaign committees of the House Democratic caucus, in particular many of the members who are expected to be fall targets and had big influxes of cash late last year. Regardless what happens on Tuesday we’ll probably still be talking about this race 10 or 20 years from now.

50th Senate (R)
Ever since breaking with the Governor’s wishes and siding with organized labor Sam McCann has had a target on his back. His opponent, Bryce Benton, has been endorsed by the Governor and largely financed by him as well. Benton has managed to raise a little more than $100K, $50K of it came from the Governor’s campaign committee, $25K came from Illinois Liberty PAC which is almost the same amount that Illinois Liberty PAC received from the Dan Proft run Illinois Opportunity Project. But Benton’s real muscle in this race has come from the spending of Liberty Principles the IE that is also run by Proft. They have spent over $3 million in this race (and coincidentally received about $2.3 million from the Governor’s IE, Turnaround Illinois). McCann has managed to raise almost $600K this quarter, largely from labor money. This race will test Republican party loyalty enforcement and the outcome will likely have repercussions for the spring budget negotiations.

22nd House (D)
The financial profile for this race is a little misleading, it only shows the Speaker’s candidate committee but he also controls the caucus fund Democratic Majority, the Democratic Party of Illinois fund and the 13th Ward Democratic Org fund, all of which are flush. The challenger, Jason Gonzales, has managed to raise about a quarter million dollars largely from CEO’s and other wealthy retirees and/or investors. But the more interesting development in this race has come from Illinois United for Change, the IE largely funded by former Democratic US Senate candidate Blair Hull and Steven Miller. The wealthy investor and his allies have independently spent over $750K to try to defeat the longtime incumbent Speaker, we’ll find out on Tuesday if it was a good investment.

26th House (D)
A rematch of a hard-fought election last cycle, oddly enough this race has featured various factions of teachers unions on opposite sides. The Chicago Teachers Union has made it a priority to defeat Christian Mitchell and they have been supporting Jay Travis, along with the Illinois Federation of Teachers. On the other side Mitchell has been supported by the Illinois Education Association along with various groups that support charter schools. A number of IE’s have been involved in this race including a labor IE supporting Travis and IllinoisGO and the Illinois Network of Charter Schools supporting Mitchell.

95th House (D)
Incumbent Avery Bourne has been largely supported by the Illinois Republican Party via independent expenditures. Challenger Dennis Scobbie has largely been funded by the IEA, first through a direct max out contribution and later via various affiliated locally named committees. Despite all of these independent expenditures and single source funding this race technically still has contribution limits, although it’s probably the best exhibit for how meaningless our current contribution limit regulations are.

26th Senate (D)
The biggest player in this race has been Liberty Principles, the IE run by former Republican Gubernatorial candidate Dan Proft. They have spent a half million dollars supporting pro-life activist Dan McConchie and in doing so lifted the contribution limits for this race. One of the more surprising developments came when McConchie received a donation from Chicago Bears owner Virginia McCaskey despite the fact that one of his opponents is the brother of Chicago Bears great Brian Urlacher. This lead to some speculation that the former Bears linebacker may step up with some large donations but so far that hasn’t happened, most of Casey Urlacher’s money has come from himself. The third candidate in the race Martin McLaughlin has had the smallest financial impact but has been endorsed by both the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times.

66th House (R)
This is another race where Liberty Principles spending has been the dominant financial force. They have spent almost a half million dollars supporting Skillicorn and opposing Serwatka and Wilbrandt (note: the spending against Serwatka doesn’t show up due to a spelling error on the filing). Carolyn Schofield has been able to break into six figures largely via a max out donation from the IEA, $40K from Pam Althoff and $5K from incumbent Mike Tryon. Paul Serwatka has also broken six figures but oddly enough it was all in 2015 fundraising, he hasn’t filed a single A-1 so far this quarter.

2nd Senate (D)
Angelica Alfaro, a charter school executive, has been the beneficiary of significant independent expenditures by allied groups including IllinoisGO, Stand for Children and the Illinois Network of Charter Schools. Omar Aquino has been backed with significant organized labor money. This near northwest side Chicago district is too expensive for Chicago TV so this has mostly resulted in lots of mail from each of these candidates and allied IE’s. Lots and lots of mail. Endless mail. I live here, please make it stop, please no more mail.

5th Senate (D)
Incumbent Patricia Van Pelt has been strongly supported by the Illinois Democratic Senate Victory Fund, the caucus committee of President Cullerton. She has also received significant outside help from IE’s IllinoisGO and the Illinois Charter Schools Network. Former Chicago mayoral candidate Bob Fioretti has been hoping to capitalize on his local popularity as the former alderman of what was the 2nd ward prior to the last remap.

102nd House (D)
This race is considered a proxy war between two Republican Governors. Brad Halbrook is supported by Governor Rauner and Dan Proft’s IE Liberty Principles has spent $300K supporting him. On the other side is Jim Acklin who has been endorsed by former Governor Jim Edgar. The TV ads in this race have been brutally negative.

The Rest
As we get farther down the list fewer of these races have enough interesting features to provide a narrative so here’s just a listing of the rest of the general assembly races.

Weekly Roundup – March 5th, 2016

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I’ve been tweeting a lot of interesting updates from recent disclosures and I thought I’d do a weekly roundup to try to summarize the week’s interesting news and organize these developments into a format you can follow. Here is last week’s roundup.

Reminder:
  • A-1 reports are for contributions received by the committee of $1,000 or more.
  • B-1 reports are for independent expenditures made independent of the candidate (cannot be coordinated).
  • Regular expenditures (not independent expenditures) are not reported until the quarterly filings are due, next on 3/31.

What follows is not every development in each of these races, only the big and/or notable ones. For comprehensive coverage of all the campaign finance data subscribe to either or both of our Racing Forms, updated daily. The Illinois Racing Form covers all the General Assembly races, the Cook County Racing Form covers all the county candidates, MWRD, judges and committeemen races.

The big news this week was that the independent expenditure committee, Illinois United for Change, spent enough money in the 22nd House supporting Jason Gonzales/opposing Mike Madigan that it exceeded the threshold needed to lift the contribution limits for this race. Until election day on March 15th both candidate committees will be able to raise unlimited funds. Full coverage of that potentially significant issue can be found here.

5th House (D) – Ken Dunkin (i) vs. Juliana Stratton
  • IllinoisGO continues to spend heavily in this race. Last weekend they filed a B-1 for $18K on mail opposing Juliana Stratton, on Monday they filed a B-1 for $145K for TV ads, on Tuesday the B-1 was for $18K for mail and on Wednesday the B-1 was for $113K for mail and TV ads, all opposing Stratton.
  • Last weekend Juliana Stratton added $39K including in-kinds for mail from both the 42 Ward Organization and Personal PAC. On Tuesday she added $200K including $79K from the IEA, $50K from the Operating Engineers and $25K from the Teamsters. On Wednesday she added $32K including $30K from the AFT. And on Thursday she added $31K including $25K from the pipe trades and some in-kind mail from Personal PAC.
  • On Friday night Ken Dunkin added another $300K from Dan Proft’s Illinois Opportunity Project. Of the $809,500 that Dunkin has reported raising so far this quarter $800K of it has come from the IOP.
 
6th House (D) – Sonya Harper (i) vs. Darryl Smith vs. Kenyatta Nicole Vaughn vs. Genita Robinson
  • On Wednesday the Illinois Network of Charter Schools filed a B-1 for $8K for mail supporting Genita Robinson.
  • On Friday IllinoisGO filed a B-1 for $18K for mail supporting Genita Robinson.
 
22nd House (D) – Michael Madigan (i) vs. Jason Gonzales vs. Joe Barboza vs. Grasiela Rodriguez
  • Throughout the week Jason Gonzales filed seven A-1’s totaling $94K, including $25K from Robert Hirsch and $7,250 from Blair Hull.
  • Illinois United for Change had a busy week, including spending enough money to meet the threshold to lift the contribution limits, as mentioned above. On Monday they added $100K, at least $50K of which came from Blair Hull, on Tuesday they added $175K including a $170K loan from Hull and on Friday they added $25K from Richard Dennis. They also spent some of that money, filing a B-1 on Tuesday for $45K for printing, a B-1 on Wednesday for $202K for TV, radio, production and printing and a B-1 on Friday for $15K for printing.
 
26th House (D) – Christian Mitchell (i) vs. Jay Travis
  • Because of the large spending by Chicagoans United for Economic Security PAC (mentioned in last week’s roundup) the contribution limits have been lifted for this race.
  • Last Friday Chicagoans United for Economic Security PAC filed a new B-1 for $34K for mail opposing Christian Mitchell. On Friday they filed a new B-1 for $33K for mail opposing Christian Mitchell and they also added $100K from CTU.
  • The 42nd Ward Dems have been supporting Jay Travis with mail and last weekend she reported another in-kind for $15K. On Thursday she filed a new A-1 adding $40K including $30K from the American Federation of Teachers and $10K from United Working Families.
  • On Monday IllinoisGO filed a B-1 for $21K for internet ads and mail opposing Jay Travis. On Wednesday IllinoisGO filed another B-1 for $9K for mail opposing Travis. On Friday IllinoisGO filed a B-1 for $9K for mail opposing Jay Travis.
  • On Tuesday Christian Mitchell added $17K including $12,500 from Stand for Children.
  • Very early Wednesday morning (4:45am, really?) Christian Mitchell added $49K including $15K from the IEA. CTU has been heavily backing Jay Travis so this race features two of the main teacher organizations spending money against each other.
  • On Friday the Illinois Network of Charter Schools filed a B-1 for $11K for mail opposing Jay Travis.
  • Christian Mitchell added $96K including $20K from the Operators and $17,500 from Stand for Children.
 
66th House (R) – Paul Serwatka vs. Daniel Wilbrandt vs. Allen Skillicorn vs. Carolyn Schofield
  • Last Friday Carolyn Schofield added $53,900 from the IEA. On Wednesday she added $45K including $40K from Pam Althoff and $5K from incumbent Mike Tryon.
  • On Monday Liberty Principles PAC filed a B-1 for $40K for TV supporting Allen Skillicorn. On Thursday Liberty Principles filed a B-1 for $9K for postage and graphic design supporting Skillicorn. On Friday Liberty Principles filed a B-1 for $153K for TV supporting Skillicorn.
 
72nd House (D) – Jeff Jacobs vs. Michael Halpin vs. Katelyn Hotle vs. Glen Evans
  • Democratic Majority, the leadership committee of the House Dems, has been filing B-1’s for spending opposing Katelyn Hotle and this week they continued to do so. Last weekend they filed a new B-1 for $4K for postage and then on Monday they filed B-1s for $4K for postage and for $4K for printing.
  • On Thursday Mike Halpin added $20K from AFSCME.
 
72nd House (R) – Brandi McGuire vs. Jordan Thoms
  • On Monday Liberty Principles PAC filed a B-1 for $6K for TV supporting Brandi McGuire. On Friday Liberty Principles filed a B-1 for $51K for TV supporting McGuire.
 
95th House (R) – Avery Bourne (i) vs. Dennis Scobbie vs. Christopher Hicks
 
99th House (R) – Sara Wojcicki Jimenez (i) vs. Kent Gray
  • On Monday the Illinois Republican Party filed a B-1 for $100K for TV ads supporting Sara Wojcicki Jimenez and on Wednesday they spent $22K on telephone polling.
 
102nd House (R) – Brad Halbrook vs. Randy Peterson vs. Jim Acklin
  • On Monday Jim Acklin added $60K in mostly labor money.
  • On Monday Liberty Principles PAC filed a B-1 for $2K for TV supporting Brad Halbrook. On Wednesday Liberty Principles filed a B-1 for $90K for TV and radio supporting Halbrook.
 
110th House (R) – Reggie Phillips (i) vs. Jonathan Kaye
  • On Monday Liberty Principles PAC filed a B-1 for $2K for TV supporting Reggie Phillips. On Wednesday Liberty Principles filed a B-1 for $17K for TV supporting Phillips. On Friday Liberty Principles filed a B-1 for $12K for TV supporting Phillips.
 
2nd Senate (D) – Angelica Alfaro vs. Omar Aquino
  • Last Friday IllinoisGO filed a B-1 spending $14K on internet ads opposing Omar Aquino. On Wednesday IllinoisGO filed a B-1 for $12K for mail opposing Omar Aquino. On Friday IllinoisGO filed a B-1 for $12K for mail opposing Aquino.
  • On Monday the Stand for Children IE filed a B-1 spending $25K on digital ads supporting Angelica Alfaro. On Tuesday the Stand for Children IE filed another B-1 for $45K supporting Alfaro, opposing Aquino.
  • On Tuesday the Illinois Network of Charter Schools filed a B-1 for $11K for mail supporting Angelica Alfaro.
  • On Wednesday Omar Aquino filed an A-1 for $20,500 including $15K from the IFT, $3K from the Cook County College Teachers Union and $2,500 from UFCW. On Friday he added $30K from the AFT.
  • On Friday Chicagoans United for Economic Security spent $18K on mail opposing Angelica Alfaro.
 
5th Senate (D) – Patricia Van Pelt (i) vs. Bob Fioretti
  • Last weekend Patricia Van Pelt added $59K including $48K from the Illinois Senate Democratic Victory Fund.
  • On Wednesday the Illinois Network of Charter Schools filed a B-1 for $8K for mail supporting Bob Fioretti.
  • On Friday IllinoisGO filed a B-1 for $17K for mail opposing Bob Fioretti.
 
26th Senate (R) – Dan McConchie vs. Casey Urlacher vs. Martin McLaughlin
  • On Monday Casey Urlacher added $22,500 including a $20K personal loan.
  • On Monday Liberty Principles PAC filed a B-1 for $65K for TV and mail supporting Dan McConchie. On Thursday Liberty Principles filed a B-1 for $12K for postage and graphic design supporting McConchie. On Friday Liberty Principles filed a B-1 for $51K for TV supporting McConchie.
 
50th Senate (R) – Sam McCann (i) vs. Bryce Benton
  • On Monday Liberty Principles PAC filed a B-1 for $5K for phones supporting Bryce Benton. On Friday they filed a B-1 for $570K for TV supporting Benton. On Friday Liberty Principles filed a B-1 for $20K for mail supporting Benton.
  • On Tuesday Sam McCann added $305K including $200K from the IEA and $100K from the Illinois Lunch Pail Republicans PAC who were funded by the Operating Engineers.
 
Cook County State’s Attorney (D) – Anita Alvarez (i) vs. Kim Foxx vs. Donna More
  • Last weekend Kim Foxx added $127K including $20K from Senator Heather Steans, $15K from John Rogers and $14K from Eric Whitaker. On Monday she added $30K including $10K from Robinson Holdings Trust and $5K from the Democratic Party of Oak Park. On Tuesday she added $284K including $250K from Toni Preckinkle. And on Thursday she added $5,500.
  • Last Friday Anita Alvarez filed an A-1 for $15K that included $10K from JMR Trust and $1,500 from former Cook County State’s Attorney Dick Devine. On Monday she filed an A-1 for $214K including a $200K personal loan. On Tuesday she added $5K, on Wednesday she added $17,500, on Thursday she added $35K including $30K from the IBEW and on Friday she added $19K including $3K from Laura Ricketts.
  • Last Friday Donna More filed an A-1 for some small in-kinds that included one for Van Rental for “More Mobile”. On Wednesday she filed an A-1 for $206,500 including a $200K in-kind from herself to pay for a media buy.
  • Illinois Safety and Justice, the IE supporting Kim Foxx continued to make news. On Wednesday they filed an A-1 for $380K including $300K from the Civic Participation Action Fund and another $80K from George Soros. On the spending side they filed a B-1 on Wednesday for $36K for direct mail and also on Friday for $32K for direct mail.
 
Other Notable Contributions Received
  • The Decatur PAC for Education added $53,900 from the IEA.
  • Mel Thillens added $15,400 including $10K from himself (not a loan) and $5,400 from prominent conservative donor Richard Uihlein.
  • The Intl Union of Operating Engineers added $100K from their international in D.C.
  • On Monday Kate Cloonan added $55K including $50K from the IEA.
  • On Monday vocal Ken Dunkin supporter Maze Jackson added $10K to his PAC.
  • On Monday Liberty Principles PAC added $50K including $25K from Cubs owner Todd Ricketts who lists his address as 1060 West Addison which unlike Elwood Blues is not a falsified renewal.
  • Mike Smiddy added $94K including $54K from AFSCME, $15K from SEIU and $12K from the IBEW.
  • On Tuesday Reclaim Chicago PAC added $10K from a Massachusetts donor.
  • Lisa Madigan added $30K including $15K from the Laborers and $10K from the Operating Engineers.
  • On Wednesday the funds controlled by President John Cullerton each had a nice haul. The Illinois Senate Democratic Victory Fund added $155K, Citizens for John Cullerton for State Senate adds $31K including $25K from Grosvenor Capital Management.
  • A day after giving the Foxx campaign $250K Toni Preckwinkle added $27K including $10K from SEIU and $1K from Taxpayers for Quinn.
  • SEIU Illinois Council added $100K in member dues.
  • On Friday the House Republican Organization added $108K including $45K from the Illinois Republican Party.
  • On Monday the Illinois Chamber created an IE and on Friday they seeded it with $10K.
  • Gary Forby added $46K including $25K from the IFT and $10K from the Laborers.
Other Interesting Developments
  • On Monday Governor Bruce Rauner personally added $2 million to his IE Turnaround Illinois. The IE had $2.6 million on hand as of 12/31/15 and the funds cannot be given directly to candidates so there must be a plan in the works.
 

You can find the complete list of all the funds available, every A-1 filed, every B-1 filed and a complete listing of all the candidates and districts in our Racing Forms. The Illinois Racing Form covers every General Assembly race while the Cook County Racing Form covers all the countywide, judicial, MWRD and Chicago committeemen races, full details below.

The Illinois Racing Form
  • District profiles for every General Assembly race including district map, current candidate listing, candidate headshots and past electoral performance.
  • Current financial status for each candidate’s campaign committee as well as other relevant committees, such as the Governor, legislative leaders and IE’s.
  • Latest candidate filings.
  • Candidates’ social media presences, including websites, Facebook , LinkedIn and Twitter.
The Cook County Racing Form
  • District profiles for every countywide, judicial, MWRD and Chicago committeeman race including district map, current candidate listing, candidate headshots and past electoral performance.
  • Current financial status for each candidate’s campaign committee as well as other relevant or related committees.
  • Latest candidate filings.
  • Candidates’ social media presences, including websites, Facebook , LinkedIn and Twitter.

Contribution Limits Lifted in the 22nd House (Mike Madigan)

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With this latest independent expenditure disclosure Illinois United for Change has now spent more than $100,000 in the 22nd House race supporting Jason Gonzales/opposing Mike Madigan thereby exceeding the threshold needed to lift the campaign contribution limits for all candidates in this race for the remainder of the primary election cycle. This means that the Speaker’s candidate committee, Friends of Michael J. Madigan, can now raise unlimited funds, an advantage not shared by the candidate committees of any of the other three legislative leaders.

The affected timeframe may be brief, the primary election cycle ends in two weeks, but the impact of this may be significant. Candidate committees can make unlimited transfers to party committees and during the general election party committees can make unlimited transfers to candidate committees. For the next two weeks the Speaker can raise unlimited funds into his candidate committee, he can then transfer as much of that as he’d like to the State Party (which he also controls) and come fall he can then use those State Party funds to either make expenditures on behalf of his candidates in targeted races or make unlimited transfers to those candidate committees.

The Governor took advantage of a similar opportunity at the end of 2014. In the 2014 Governor’s race the contribution limits were lifted due to the large amount of self funding from Bruce Rauner, however the Governor’s campaign committee was scheduled to be subject to contribution limits once again at the start of January 2015. After Bruce Rauner was elected Governor but before he took office he turned his attention to the General Assembly. One day prior to the contribution limits going back into effect his main campaign committee, Citizens for Rauner, added $20 million from three contributors: 1) Bruce Rauner, $10 million, 2) Ken Griffin, $8 million, 3) Richard Uhilein, $2 million. Here’s what that money is intended to be used for according to Greg Hinz in Crain’s, who was given the scoop:

The money won’t be spent on his re-election campaign in 2018 but to help him pass legislation this spring through a General Assembly in which Democrats hold veto-proof majorities in both the House and Senate.

“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 Democrats, particularly in the House, have been aggressively fundraising to try to catch up. In 2015 the four funds controlled by the Speaker raised $7.7 million, Cullerton’s three funds raised $5.1 million while the Senate and House Republicans each raised about $1.6 million and the Illinois Republican Party raised about $500K. In addition to leadership fundraising the House Democrats have been very aggressively raising large sums into the various candidate committees of the candidates they expect to face targeted general election races, particularly in the 4th quarter of 2015. Aside from the legislative leaders only one other Republican campaign committee raised over $100K last quarter (Jil Tracy) whereas 19 other Democratic campaign committees raised more than $100K including 11 House committees over $247K and 3 over $500K. The Democrats were busy raising money into every door available, now though the Speaker can focus on his own interests and raise unlimited sums during this very brief window for the next two weeks until election day.

If the Republicans want to try to maximize the same advantage they have opportunities as well. The contribution limits are off in the 72nd and 114th House as well as the 26th and 50th Senate races where they have candidates. If they want to go the coordinated route and they had an agreeable candidate they could raise unlimited sums into a candidate committee and then transfer those funds into the State Party. If they aren’t concerned about coordination they could simply raise unlimited sums into the Governor’s independent expenditure committee, Turnaround Illinois, and then spend that money independent of the candidates involved. Turnaround Illinois finished 2015 with $2.6 million on hand and just the other night the Governor personally contributed another $2 million. Plus the Governor still has $20 million in his main campaign committee that he has pledged to use to support his allied candidates in the General Assembly.

The contribution limits that went into effect for Illinois elections in 2011 have done little to stem the tide of money flowing into our electoral system. Instead we have a much more convoluted process where the money is coming in through a much larger number of vehicles making it harder to track and some competitors find themselves raising money by an unequal set of rules. For a short time the Speaker will be able to raise unlimited funds, an advantage not shared by President Cullerton or Leaders Radogno and Durkin. The Republican leaders’ disadvantage is somewhat offset by the Governor’s deep pocketed supporters and his flush campaign funds. Meanwhile President Cullerton will have to try to keep up while only being able to raise money in limited amounts, unless he cuts a deal with the Speaker to work together to financially support all of the legislative Democratic candidates. Given the amount of money the Governor has pledged to support Republican General Assembly candidates can he afford not to?

If you are a wealthy Democratic donor your phone is about to ring, the Speaker will be calling. In fact he’s likely to be on the phone non-stop for the next two weeks focused on big (very big) checks. The window for the Speaker is now wide open in a way that isn’t for his peers and history suggests that he’s likely to press his advantage, we’ll keep track of the results and update you on the progress.

 

Note: there are two scenarios where the contribution limits can be lifted 1) when a candidate’s self funding exceeds the threshold and 2) when an independent expenditure committee’s independent expenditures exceed the threshold, and they appear to be treated differently. If the contribution limits are lifted during a primary because of self funding (#1) the contribution limits are lifted for both the primary and the general election, however the section of the law on lifting contribution limits in a primary due to independent expenditures (#2) is silent on the general election so it only appears to apply to that current election cycle. In this scenario for the 22nd House the contribution limits are being lifted because of scenario 2 so the lifting of the contribution limits appears to only apply to the primary. Had they been lifted for both the primary and general the advantage to the Speaker would have been even greater.