Monday, January 31, 2005

D2: Deadline Day, the sequel

The way these blogs post, you'll likely read the sequel first; know that there's a prequel posted down below. We’re still waiting on some of the Senate candidates, but most of the closely watched House candidates have filed, as have all of the incumbent statewides and the appellate court candidates, so we can list a few preliminary numbers for these races. I say these are preliminary because all of the numbers haven’t been fully checked – I noticed that Sen. Bill Haine moved $30K to a CD after election day and so I didn’t count that toward his campaign spending, but I may have missed similar “expenditures” by other candidates (note that Sen. Haine reported the CD correctly among his expenditures, it’s just that we don’t want to count savings as a campaign expense in these sort of comparisons)

Among House races, the most expensive appear to be (drum roll)

Slone/Schock at $1,460,891 (Republican Schock beat incumbent Slone)
Gordon/Hayse at $1,331,184 (Democrat Gordon beat challenger Hayse)
Grunloh/Reis at $1,180,052 (Republican Reis beat incumbent Grunloh)
Dugan/Pangle at $834,576 (Democrat Dugan beat challenger Pangle)
Flider/England at $705,892 (Democrat Flider beat challenger England; he also outspent England by more than 10:1. That this race made the Top Five is a tribute to overkill)

It’s worth noting that most House races didn’t cost anywhere near this much. Most incumbents raise $50K to $100K over the course of a two-year term, and for most of them, that’s plenty. But in each of these expensive races, one caucus looked at somebody across the aisle and decided to make a play. All of these races had heavy, heavy infusions from their caucuses. (Cauci?) And every incumbent knows that, if it happens to them, they have to hope that their leader thinks they’re worth saving; there aren’t many other places to get that kind of cash in a hurry. In a sense, these races serve as an object lesson for the ones who aren’t targeted: watch out, lest this happen to you. It was southern Cook County in the mid-90s, then the far south, then the northern suburbs; now it appears to be central Illinois. Throwing this kind of money around cannot be good for democracy.

The Supreme Court race was obscene; there’s just no other word for it. The race cost a total of $8,929,683. Lloyd Karmeier may be a wonderful jurist, but he’s just one guy; his seat cost more than the last four seats combined. And nearly all of the money came from exactly one place: tort interests (reformers for the Republicans, trial bar for the Dems). Most of the Court’s docket has nothing to do with tort cases; they hear a lot of criminal cases (death penalties are an automatic appeal), juvenile, divorce, probate, contracts, but the only part of the docket that rang the cash registers were personal injuries, which account for less than a tenth of all cases they hear. What does it mean for the Court that one small part of the docket is determining who’s got the cash to run for a seat?

Oh, there was an Appellate Court seat up, too. Former Rep. Mary K. O’Brien beat Jim Wright; they combined for $553,693. And sixty-seven cents. Lots of tort money there, too.

I admit: thought Saving Healthcare and Industry For Tomorrow (SHIFT) was a PAC for Karmeier supporters. And maybe it was, in a way. But their report shows that they spent $1,380 to bring ABC News Reporter John Stossel to town. And another $12,116.48 to buy copies of Stossel’s book. And they gave $$2.5K to the Illinois Chamber PAC. And that’s all they spent. Maybe Stossel helped somebody win an elective office. Seems like a lot of money for some books.

As of 9:30, Citizens for Calvin Giles hadn’t filed. The committee went a year without filing, triggering fines by the State Board of Elections totaling $143,000. $80K of that took effect last summer, and threatened to knock Rep. Giles off the ballot. His lawyers got him out of that, but now he’s got to come up with $63K to pay the rest of the fines in order to be on the ballot next year. Unless his lawyers, or somebody else, can get him off that hook, too.

The statewides raised some money, too, but not much; they seem to have left the field to those who were on the ballot last year. Gov. Blagojevich reported $994K raised (these figures include in-kinds); he spent most of that, too, and ended the year with $10,391,191.17 in the bank. AG Madigan reported $235K raised and ended up with $803,722.57. SoS White raised $325K and ended with $1,179,389. Comptroller Hynes raised $65K and left $160,046 in the bank. Treasurer Topinka took in $247K and had $618,112 on hand.

D2: Deadline Day

Today is the deadline for Illinois candidates filing the semi-annual disclosure report for the last half of 2004. As of now, the statewides haven't filed (not a one of'em), but some of the contested legislative races have, as have both of the Supreme Court candidates:

Citizens for Patrick Ouimet burned through $1,094,950 on the way to losing to Pamela Althoff, who spent just three-fourths as much. $690K of Ouimet’s spending came from the Senate Dems.

Likewise, incumbent Democrat John Sullivan reported spending less than his opponent, yet he won handily. John Sullivan for State Senate reported $836,116 on the general election, while Citizens for Tom Ernst showed $870,029

Ralph Capparelli’s two committees spent a net total of $319,359. He retains a total of $840K, of which Illinois election law will allow him to keep $634,448.67 for personal use, should he so decide.

Illinois also saw a record-setting Supremem Court contest last fall. Democrat Gordon Maag, who lost that contest, filed this morning, showing $267,897 in expenditures and a mind-blowing $4,136,807 in-kind, for a total of $4,404,704. Winner Lloyd Karmeier filed just after 5 pm; he shows $1,484,353 in expenditures and another $3,040,626 in-kind, for a total of $4,524,979. Karmeier supporters the Coalition for Jobs, Growth, and Prosperity has filed, showing $404,833 in expenditures, all of it from the Coalition for Jobs, Growth and Prosperity. If that sounds circular, it is; the Coalition hasn't announced where their money came from, even though that's the aim of Illinois' disclosure law. Maag supporter the Justice for All PAC filed this morning; they finalled out, signalling the dissolution of the PAC. That PAC showed $1,311,595 in spending, $385K of which came from the Justice for All Foundation. If you're sensing a pattern of circularity, you are not alone. Justice for All Foundation did not report where their money came from.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

D-2 Update

A couple more contested candidates have filed D2s:

Citizens for Michael P McAuliffe reported $272,548 in receipts, $82,684 in-kind, and $292,880 in expenditures. Just over a quarter of the receipts, and nearly all of the in-kinds, came from Tom Cross or the House Republican caucus PAC. Neither PAC of Rep. McAuliffe’s opponent, Rep. Ralph Capparelli, has filed yet; we’ll just have to wait to see how much of the million the Dean had in the bank that he actually spent last autumn.

Gary Dahl for State Senate reported $659,948 in receipts, $136,122 in-kind, and $661,772 in expenditures. Over half of the receipts came from the Senate Republicans or Frank Watson; in-kinds were mostly the Illinois Republican Party, the Senate Republicans or the Illinois Chamber. Incumbent Pat Welch hasn’t filed yet, but this race is vying with Sullivan/Ernst, Forby/Sumnmers and Althoff/Ouimet for top honors in this cycle’s record-setting contest.

Citizens for Schock reported $351,004 in receipts, $231,192 in-kind, and $377,863 in expenditures. About half of the receipts came from Tom Cross or the HRO, as did four-fifths of the in-kinds. He reports two mailings worth a total of $3K paid for by the Southern IL Medical Alliance to Save Healthcare (SMASH), one a week after the election, and one a month after. Schock eked out a win against incumbent Ricca Slone, who hasn’t filed yet.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Fans Await D2

The band is called U2; the disclosure report is the D-2. The band will be playing Chicago in May, but the reports must be filed by next Monday. A handful of candidates in hotly contested races have already posted theirs. Here’re some summaries:

Citizens for Susan Garrett reported $254,229 in receipts, $40,707 in-kind, and $331,664 in expenditures. $90K of her funds came from the Senate Dems. This was expected to be a top tier race, at least until the Keyes nomination. Her opponent, Daniel Bryant, has not filed yet.

Citizens for Michelle Bromberg reported $190,466 in receipts, $216,104 in-kind, and $217,999 in expenditures. Over half of the receipts, and nearly all of the in-kinds, came from DPI. This was a top tier race; Bromberg lost to incumbent Elizabeth Coulson by over 4,000 votes. Coulson hasn’t filed yet.

Citizens for Frank Aguilar reported $30,690 in receipts, $1,207 in-kind, and $30,979 in expenditures. This was not a hotly contested race in the traditional sense of the word; his opponent never formed a fundraising committee (nor, according to news reports, did she actively campaign for the office). Still, Rep. Aguilar lost to Michelle Chavez in a close election.

John Sullivan for State Senate reported $719,059 in receipts, $151,265 in-kind, and $684,851 in expenditures. $383K of the receipts came from the Senate Dems; the in-kinds came from the Senate Dems, the AFL and the IFT. This was a top tier race; challenger Tom Ernst has not filed yet, but this race is likely one of the most expensive Senate contests of 2004.

Former state Sen. William Marovitz, husband of Playboy CEO Christie Hefner, has finaled out his committee, Citizens for Marovitz. The committee was in hot water with the State Board of Elections for failing to file disclosure reports in a timely manner; disciplinary action dragged out for most of 2004. But in December, Marovitz agreed to pay $3,300 in fines. He then paid off some debts and pocketed $65,000 for himself before closing the fund.

Friday, January 21, 2005

New Legislation

Legislators are filing new bills for the new legislative session; it’s time to forget all the old bill numbers and learn the new ones. Here’s some of what’s been filed so far:

Voters Guides

Rep. Sara Feigenholtz (D-Chicago) has filed HB 113, which calls on the State Board of Elections to create voters guides. These guides would be mailed to all households in the state in September before an election, and include information on the candidates, including photos, bios, and statements; offices on the ballot, including terms in office, dutdies and base salary; and how-tos of voting, including a voter registration form, instructions for using balloting equipment, and polling place information. The booklets are similar to ones mailed out in a dozen other states, and reflect the recommendations of the Illinois Voters Guide Task Force.

Lobbyist Registration

House Speaker Michael J. Madigan (D-Chicago) and Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie (D-Chicago) have filed HB 335 which amends the Lobbyist Registration Act. The change would require the Secretary of State to maintain a “no gift list” for public officials who choose not to receive gifts from lobbyists. This isn’t the sweeping revision to the Lobbyist Act we would have written, but it’s a start.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

You Want Fries With That?

Disclosure reports for the second half of 2004 are due to be filed by the end of the month. PACs can file at any time between now and then, and so this blog may become more lively in the coming weeks. Leadership PACs and those in contested elections tend to file late, but so far a handful of interest groups have filed their statements. Including:

• McDonald’s PAC. I didn’t know the fast food purveyor even had a PAC, but lo and behold, it’s been around since 1998. They report giving nearly $30,000 in the last half of 2004, down considerably from the nearly $50K they gave in the last half of the past two even (read: election) years. Their relative stinginess comes despite passing the Commonsense Consumption Act (PA 93-848), which prohibits lawsuits within Illinois alleging that eating McDonald’s food made people fat.

• The Illinois Education Association showed again why they’re the largest PAC in the state, reporting nearly $1 million in non-itemized contributions in the last half of 2004 alone. They also reported spending $1.6 million, and start 2005 with $909,936.36 in the bank; most other PACs won’t raise or spend anywhere close to that amount in the next two years.

• The Payday Lenders, through their Illinois Small Loan Association PAC, reported giving $151,989 in the last half of 2004. That’s on top of the $163K they gave previously in the 2003-2004 election cycle, and doesn’t count the money given directly by members to candidates and leadership PACs. In all, it’s an awful lot of money for a group dedicated to killing interest rate and fee limits.

The Ethics of Trash Dumps

In addition to being highly entertaining reading, the recent news stories about the spat between Gov. Rod Blagojevich and his father-in-law, Chicago Alderman Richard Mell, include allegations of possible violations of the 2003 State Officials and Employees Ethics Act. How many have you spotted? Here’s what we’ve found so far:

• Selling Nominations to State Boards. At least two reports in the Chicago Sun Times include allegations by Mell that Team Blago has been selling nominations to state boards and commissions in exchange for campaign contributions. These allegations, if proven, could constitute
A) A prohibited offer or promise (Sec. 5-30)
B) The performance of prohibited political activities during compensated time (Sec. 5-15(a)) in the following ways:
(1) Soliciting contributions,
(2) Managing or working on a campaign, or
(3) Preparing for, organizing, or participating in any political meeting.

• Offering State Jobs in Exchange for Volunteering on a Political Campaign. A report in the State Journal Register suggests that applicants for state jobs may have been told to work on political campaigns in order to qualify for employment. Such an arrangement could, if proven, constitute a violation of the Ethics Act in the same ways cited above.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

U.S. Attorney Releases Proffer in Case Against Former Gov. George Ryan

The evidentary proffer released today in the U.S. Attorney's case against former Gov. George Ryan broadens the litany of allegations of corruption during his terms as Secretary of State and Governor. Some of what is here reiterates claims made in previous trials against other Safe Road defendants. The trials of Donald Udstuen and Scott Fawell included alllegations directly linking Gov. Ryan to instances of steering state contracts and hiding (and failing to pay taxes on) illicit income. To be sure, these allegation, while raised in court against other defendants, have not yet been proven in a case against Gov. Ryan.

Today's proffer goes into more depth than ever before to illuminate the scope of corruption that may have tainted Ryan's terms in public office. Especially important is the breadth of complicity in delivering state contracts to favored bidders. Legions of state employees had to abuse the public trust for these contracts to be sold, and the proffer identifies those state employees, many of whom never thought they'd find themselves in the public spotlight, who are expected to testify.

A pdf of the proffer, made available by the U.S. Atttorney's office, can be downloaded here.