Monday, November 20, 2006

With a Capital C

Robert Sorich, the number two guy in Mayor Richard Daley's Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, was sentenced today to 46 months in jail. His conviction last Spring made the point that tying public jobs to political performance is illegal all by itself; there is no need for the feds to show that anybody took a bribe or other personal payment to encourage trading public quid for private quo. And now his sentencing shows that judges take this kind of crime seriously, too. Judge David H. Cour noted that "The offense is corruption - corruption with a capital C," adding that "for people to owe their jobs to political advancement rather than performance on the job stinks."

The verdict should also be a warning to anyone else considering or currently tying public benefits to political actions. What's striking about the Hired Truck scandals that have, so far, culminated in this sentencing is that the underlying criminal acts took place at the same time that Operation Safe Road was convicting people of nearly identical acts at the Secretary of State's office. Some of the allegations in Hired Truck indictments even took place after other City employees had been indicted. Some day soon, we hope, insiders everywhere, at the state and local levels, will get the message that it's just not worth it, that no one is immune, and the feds are looking for this stuff. And, so far, the feds' record is better than the Bears'.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

2006 Judicial Contests: Same Interests, Different Result, Same Outcome?

Fundraising in the Fifth District Appellate Court race, as in the last Fifth District Supreme Court race, was dominated by tort interests. In both races, the Republican drew most of his resources from national tort reform organizations, often funneled through the state Party, while the Democrat drew most of his resources from personal injury plaintiff's lawyers, sometimes funneled through the state Party. Unlike in 2004, this time it appears that the Democrat won. But once again, voters in the area were subjected to an aerial barrage of negative attack ads that ultimately undermine the stature of the judiciary. And tort cases make up only a small part of the Court's docket.

Illinois' campaign finance laws require disclosure only; there are no limits on how much interests can give. In reaction to the 2004 Supreme Court race, the legislature changed the laws about giving by non-profits. But this race makes plain that donors can continue to mask their identity. The American Justice Partnership gave $305K directly to one candidate without disclosing where they raised that money. Unless the AJP discloses its donors, these contributions may be in violation of Illinois law. But giving by the Institute for Legal Reform and plaintiff's lawyers to the state parties, most of which quickly made its way to the candidates, apparently broke no state rules, even though it effectively shielded the original source of the money. Illinois law does not provide adequate oversight of conduits to make disclosure work in a timely manner.

Other judicial contests fit the pattern, though we're still crunching the numbers. Below are preliminary tallies for the Fifth District Appellate Court race; final counts won't be available until early next year. Late contributions, some of which may include pass through money, might not be reported until early next year. Several pass through donors, including the state parties and JUSTPAC, were involved in more than one judicial race.

Top Contributors to McGlynn from posted Pre-Election Reports and A-1’s
$10,000 or More 7/1/2006 – Midnight 11/7/2006

Total Reported Fundraising by McGlynn: $2,239,808

Top Donors to McGlynn

Apl5 McGlynn, Stephen $1,204,000 Illinois Republican Party
Apl5 McGlynn, Stephen $305,000 American Justice Partnership
Apl5 McGlynn, Stephen $201,000 JUSTPAC
Apl5 McGlynn, Stephen $120,000 American Tort Reform Association
Apl5 McGlynn, Stephen $40,000 Illinois Chamber of Commerce PAC
Apl5 McGlynn, Stephen $15,805 Illinois State Medical Society PAC

Money Available for pass through to McGlynn (these donors were also active in other judicial races)

IL State Rep Party $1,875,000 Institute for Legal Reform

JUSTPAC $140,000 American Tort Reform Association
JUSTPAC $100,000 American Justice Partnership
JUSTPAC $60,000 Illinois Chamber Political Action Committee
JUSTPAC $25,000 Metropolitan Life Insurance Company
JUSTPAC $25,000 Caterpillar Inc
JUSTPAC $20,000 Pfizer Pac
JUSTPAC $17,000 Reagan Club of Illinois
JUSTPAC $11,000 Cassens Transport
JUSTPAC $10,000 Peoples Energy PAC
JUSTPAC $10,000 Allstate Insurance Company

Top Contributors to Stewart from posted Pre-Election Reports and A-1’s
$10,000 or more 7/1/2006 – Midnight 11/7/2006

Total Reported Fundraising by Stewart: $1,047,221

Top Donors to Stewart

Apl5 Stewart, Bruce $314,366 Democratic Party of Illinois
Apl5 Stewart, Bruce $58,290 Southern & Central Illinois Laborers
Apl5 Stewart, Bruce $32,000 M & R Testing Company/Ronald Osman
Apl5 Stewart, Bruce $16,050 Illinois Federation of Teachers COPE
Apl5 Stewart, Bruce $15,000 Power Rogers & Smith PC
Apl5 Stewart, Bruce $15,000 Corboy & Demetrio PC
Apl5 Stewart, Bruce $15,000 Cooney and Conway
Apl5 Stewart, Bruce $15,000 Clifford Law Offices PC
Apl5 Stewart, Bruce $12,500 Market Street Bancshares Inc.
Apl5 Stewart, Bruce $12,075 12th CD DemState Central Com Fund
Apl5 Stewart, Bruce $10,916 Womick Law Firm Chartered
Apl5 Stewart, Bruce $10,660 Keefe, Jr., Thomas Q
Apl5 Stewart, Bruce $10,000 IL State AFL CIO COPE
Apl5 Stewart, Bruce $10,000 Callis, Lance
Apl5 Stewart, Bruce $10,000 Anesi Ozmon Rodin Novak & Kohen Ltd
Apl5 Stewart, Bruce $10,000 AFSCME Illinois Council 31
Apl5 Stewart, Bruce $10,000 Foote Meyers Mielke & Flowers LLC
Apl5 Stewart, Bruce $10,000 Simmons-Cooper

Money Available for pass through to Stewart (these donors were also active in other judicial races)

Democratic Party of IL $50,000 Thomas Q. Keefe Jr. PC
Democratic Party of IL $50,000 Diab & Bock
Democratic Party of IL $50,000 Simmons Cooper LLC
Democratic Party of IL $25,000 Korein Tillery LLC
Democratic Party of IL $15,000 Freed & Weiss LLC
Democratic Party of IL $15,000 ILTrial Lawyers Association PAC

It's time to stop collecting campaign cash. Time to lead by example.

A coalition of eight reform organizations challenged Gov. Rod Blagojevich on Wednesday to work as hard at passing sweeping campaign reforms as he did at winning reelection.

The coalition called on Blagojevich to dissolve his campaign committee as quickly as possible and to impose a moratorium on his own campaign fundraising until the General Assembly passes the campaign finance reform legislation proposed by Blagojevich 18 months ago.

"The election is over and Gov. Blagojevich should turn his attention immediately to bringing fairness to the state's election system and honesty to government," said Cynthia Canary, Director of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform (ICPR). "Creating ethics commissions and inspectors generals was an important reform in his first term, but Gov. Blagojevich's pledge to 'rock the system' with campaign finance reform proved to be nothing but empty rhetoric."

In addition to ICPR, the coalition includes the Better Government Association, the League of Women Voters of Illinois, Protestants for the Common Good, Illinois Common Cause, Citizen Advocacy Center, Illinois PIRG and the Sunshine Project.

"During his first campaign, Gov. Blagojevich ran on a reform agenda," said Terry Pastika, Director of the Citizen Advocacy Center. "During his second campaign, Gov. Blagojevich defiantly stated his 'campaign practices are by the book.' Unfortunately, playing by the book offers no reassurance to voters when the system is broken. By dissolving his campaign committee and imposing a political fundraising moratorium on himself, until he passes his proposed campaign finance reforms, Gov. Blagojevich can lead by example."

"It is time for him to put the Blagojevich fundraising machine in storage and to put the full force of his persuasive powers behind convincing legislators to enact the campaign financing reforms he says he favors," said Rev. Jennifer Kottler, Deputy Director of Protestants for the Common Good. "If trust in our system is to be restored, and it must, the Governor must lead by example. Our elected officials must be seen as moral public servants; the perception cannot be that they are bought and paid for by special interests."

"For more than a year, the governor has told voters he backs legislation that would end 'pay to play' in state government by banning all campaign contributions by corporations and labor unions and setting limits on how much individuals can contribute to campaigns," said Jay Stewart, Executive Director of the Better Government Association. "The Governor's proposal mirrored much of what the reform community has advocated for years. Unfortunately, he didn't do anything to try to pass it in the General Assembly."

"At the time, the Governor was sitting on a $10 million campaign treasury, and legislators viewed his plan as disingenuous and a buffer against scandals that have become the focus of federal investigations," said Kent Redfield, Director of the Sunshine Project. "But by dissolving his campaign committee and imposing a moratorium on his own fundraising, the playing field will be leveled, and there can be a legitimate opportunity to change the rules of campaigning in Illinois."

"If he should decide to run for a third term in the 2010 election, he and all the candidates should do so under a new system," said Paula Lawson, President of the League of Women Voters of Illinois. "If Illinois enacts these sweeping reforms, he could end the moratorium and begin raising funds under the new rules, like all other candidates."

Here are some of the key elements of the Governor's 2005 proposal (SB1822):

Prohibit campaign contributions by corporations and labor unions, a ban already in place at the federal level and in most states.
Limit contributions by individuals to $2,000 per candidate in each election and $5,000 to political action committees and political parties.
Place a ceiling of $40,000 on the aggregate of contributions by an individual in any election cycle.
Limit contributions by political action committees to $5,000 per candidate in each election.
Increase the detail of personal financial information to be made public by state officials.
Increase public information about lobbyists' contracts and activities.
Require a one-year wait before retiring legislators and former state employees could become lobbyists.
Increase enforcement powers of the State Board of Elections, require audits of campaign finance reports filed by candidates and PACs, and require quarterly disclosure of campaign contributions by candidates.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Today's the day - UPDATED

All of the ads, all of the fundraising, all of the campaign speeches and policy papers and soundbites and debates all come down to one thing: Election Day. If you haven't voted already, and media reports suggest that thousands of Illinoisans have voted early this time, the polls are open now until 7 pm this evening. The State Board of Elections' website can help you get in touch with your local election authority, who can help you find your polling place.

NOTE: Sporadic problems in polling places in Cook and Kane counties have resulted in at least two court orders that polling places be held open beyond the statutory 7 pm closing time. It is highly unusual for polling places to remain open beyond 7 pm, and most polling places will likely close at the regular time. However, if you think you might be late to the polls, contact your local election authority, to see if your polling place is among those that will stay open late.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Fundraising Update 11/6

Recent campaign finance reports show that, as of 4pm today, a 10th legislative contest has crossed the $1 million threshold. With the addition of the 101st District contest between incumbent Bob Flider and challenger Dick Cain, five contests for House seats and five for Senate seats have candidates with combined fundraising in excess of $1,000,000. Previous elections have seen no more than 7 contests cost that much. The expensive races are:

52nd Senate (Myers/Frerichs/Parnarauskis): $1.9M
49th Senate (Richey/Demuzio): $1.6M
34th Senate (Syverson/Lewandowski): $1.2M
42nd Senate (Wintermute/Holmes): $1.1M
22nd Senate (Roth/Noland): $1.1M

107th House (Granberg/Cavaletto): $1.7M
92nd House (Spears/Schock): $1.4M
91st House (Smith/Dagit): $1.4M
71st House (Boland/Haring): $1.3M
101st House (Flider/Cain): $1.1M

The 5th District Appellate Court race continues to grow. Appointed incumbent Steve McGlynn holds a 2:1 fundraising advantage, but Circuit Court judge Bruce Stewart reported $50K over the weekend. Combined, the race stands at $3.3M since the candidates declared. So far, the Illinois Republican Party has given McGlynn $1.2M, while spending just $300K on Judy Baar Topinka, their nominee for governor. The McGlynn spending came in two donations, each made within days of receiving comparable infusions from a U.S. Chamber organization, the Institute for Legal Reform.

Other observations:

* Most legislative leaders seem to have put a little money behind each of their candidates. House Republican Leader Tom Cross is the exception: he put two really big bets on challengers ($200K to Steve Haring and $138K to John Cavaletto) rather than give middling amounts to all of the candidates he's been supporting. We'll see tomorrow how that worked for him.

* Rep. Mike McAuliffe reported $719.49 from the House Republican Campaign Committee for "payroll." Former House Republican Leader Lee Daniels shuttered the old HRCC last January; HRCC showed no expenditure that would account for this listing. It's probably HRO giving to McAuliffe, who just got nostalgic about the name.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Updated Numbers 11/3

Couple of new reports since yesterday and seeing as it's the final weekend, we thought we'd run a quick list of races. If totals are unchanged from yesterday, we wont' list them here; this is for new totals only. We're also listing some races we didn't list yesterday; there are a bunch of legislative races that aren't in the top five but are still getting a fair amount of media interest. For the first time, we're also posting numbers for the Cook County Board President's race.

Here're the updates, as of 2:30pm today. We'll mark candidates with new totals with an *asterix*.

Contested Appellate Court Races
(Fundraising totals from formation of the PAC through November 3 2:30pm)
3rd District Central IL = $484,000
Michael Powers* (R) $304,000
Vicki Wright (D) $180,000
5th District/ Southern IL = $3,199,000
Stephen McGlynn (R) $2,215,000
Bruce Stewart* (D) $984,000

In legislative races, the biggest gainers since yesterday are Michael Bond at $58K, Aaron Schock at $44K, and Kurt Granberg at $41K. Most of the big money at this point in the race comes in transfers from the legislative leaders.

Senate Races
(Cash on hand June 30 plus fundraising totals from July 1 through November 3 2:30pm)
22nd Senate - NW Suburbs = $1,061,000
Billie Roth (R) $475,000
Michael Noland (D) $577,000
31st Senate - N Suburbs = $788,000
Suzanne Simpson * (R) $412,000
Michael Bond * (D) $376,000
33rd Senate - NW Suburbs = $883,000
Cheryl Axley (R) $367,000
Dan Kotowski (D) $516,000
34th Senate - Rockford = $1,191,000
Dave Syverson * (R) $698,000
Dan Lewandowski * (D) $494,000
46th Senate - Central IL = $703,000
Ernie Russel * (R) $477,000
David Koehler (D) $225,000
49th Senate - Central IL = $1,646,000
Jeff Richey (R) $274,000
Deanna Demuzio * (D) $1,372,000
52nd Senate - Champaign/ Urbana = $1,893,000
Judith Myers * (R) $856,000
Michael Frerichs (D) $1,035,000
Joseph Parnarauskis (S) $1,000

House Races
(Cash on hand June 30 plus fundraising totals from July 1 through November 3 2:30pm)
44th House - W. Suburbs = $491,000
Terry Parke * (R) $386,000
Fred Crespo (D) $105,000
71st House - Quad Cities = $1,146,000
Steven Haring * (R) $387,000
Mike Boland * (D) $758,000
75th House - Eastern IL = $595,000
Jason Briscoe (R) $223,000
Careen Gordon (D) $372,000
92nd House - Peoria = $1,403,000
Aaron Schock * (R) $928,000
Bill Spears * (D) $475,000
101st House - Decatur = $966,000
Dick Cain * (R) $360,000
Robert Flider (D) $606,000
107th House - Centralia = $1,666,000
John Cavaletto * (R) $578,000
Kurt Granberg * (D) $1,087,000

Topinka reported $200K in transfers from the Party, while Blago reported $25K from the "Michael Bloomberg Org" of New York City. Rich Whitney isn't showing new income, but his running mate, Julie Samuels, activated her political committee yesterday.

Gubernatorial Candidates
(Cash on hand June 30 plus fundraising totals from July 1 through November 3, 2:30pm)
Governor = $22,569,000
Rod Blagojevich (D) $16,621,000
Judy Baar Topinka (R) $5,919,000
Rich Whitney (G) $29,000

Even on top of his apparently unsecured $500K loan, Todd Stroger continues to pull in large contributions, including $50K from DPI.

Cook County Board President
(Cash on hand June 30 plus fundraising totals from July 1 through November 3, 2:30pm)
Both Candidates = $2,829,000
Todd Stroger (D) $1,713,000
Tony Peraica (R) $1,116,000

Blago on the Tube

Think you've seen a lot of TV ads lately for Gov. Blagojevich? You're not alone. Nielsen Media Research yesterday released a national survey that found that our governor has run more ads than most candidates for governor this year. He's #3 on the list, with 11,388 spots aired between August 1 and October 15, a time frame that ignores the 3,582 spots he ran last April, May, and June in Chicago, and any downstate Springtime ads that may have run. By contrast, Republican Topinka has run just 4,096 spots, according to Nielson, and none last Spring, according to our research.

As ICPR reported earlier, TV news stations have largely abdicated coverage of campaigns and elections, devoting less time to candidates than to intros and teasers in a typical half hour broadcast. TV ads fill that void, and Blagojevich has used his enormous campaign warchest to define the terms of the campaign with these spots.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Downstate Judicial Races Leave Records in the Dust

Note - We put this release out earlier this morning, which is to say the numbers are a tad stale by now. Many of these candidates have since filed A1s, including Democratic Appellate Court candidate Bruce Stewart for $125K, Republican House candidate John Cavaletto for $20K, and Sen. Judy Myers and House candidate Dick Cain for $14K each. So it goes with moving targets! Check back to for regular updates.

Downstate Judicial Races Leave Records in the Dust
9 Legislative Contests Pass $1M Mark

With one weekend left in Campaign 2006, fundraising in judicial and legislative races is off the charts. Spending by two candidates battling to fill a vacancy on the 5th District Appellate Court in southern Illinois has obliterated the $567,000 record for General Election spending in an appellate court race in Illinois, and quite possibly the national record for appellate contests. The fight over one Circuit Court seat in the Metro East area also seems headed for record-breaking spending.

In addition, five Senate races and four House races have crossed the $1 million mark, and at least three others are poised to break that threshold. Large contributions from labor unions, especially teachers, and tort reform organizations are driving the totals. Previous election cycles have seen no more than 7 legislative races break the $1 million mark.

Among judicial races, two stand out for their fundraising: the 5th District Appellate race in southern Illinois and the race for the Kardis vacancy in Third Circuit, also in southern Illinois. Both look to be replays of the 2004 5th District Supreme Court race: a proxy war between tort reform advocates and trial lawyers. The race in this Appellate Court district, which stretches from the Metro East area to the Indiana border, already appears to have broken the record for spending in a state Appellate Court contest. Most of the money in the race is going for TV attack ads. Surveys taken right after the 2004 Supreme Court race in the same area found that judicial elections conducted this way do severe damage to popular confidence in the judiciary. (See ICPR’s website for the surveys)

Contested Appellate Court Races
(Fundraising totals from formation of the PAC through November 2 9am)
3rd District Central IL = $476,000
Michael Powers (R) $296,000
Vicki Wright (D) $180,000
5th District/ Southern IL = $3,063,000
Stephen McGlynn (R) $2,215,000
Bruce Stewart (D) $847,000

The Circuit Court race in Madison and Bond counties between Don Weber and David Hylla has surged past half a million and will likely break a record for Circuit Court races in Illinois. Circuit Court races rarely draw this kind of interest from financial donors. With no guarantee that the winner will even be assigned to hear personal injury cases, both candidates for the Kardis vacancy are drawing heavily from personal injury interests, plaintiffs for the Democrat and defendants for the Republican. The race for the Moran vacancy in the same Circuit is far more typical of Circuit Court races.

Third Circuit Court Races (Madison and Bond Counties)
(Fundraising totals from formation of the PAC through November 2 9am)
Kardis Vac / Madison & Bond Co. = $629,000
Don W. Weber (R) $233,000
David A. Hylla (D) $395,000
Moran Vac / Madison & Bond Co. = $210,000
James Hackett (R) $61,000
Barbara Crowder (D) $149,000

Some of the legislative races in the targeted districts are expected to break state records. What all of these expensive legislative races have in common is gigantic transfers from the legislative leaders. Indeed, the four legislative leaders have raised a combined $17.6 million for the General Election, and to date have transferred $11.2 million to aid their candidates. While these numbers are floating targets, ICPR estimates that Senate President Emil Jones retains the highest balance going into the final weekend, with $2.2 million in cash available; followed by Senate Republican Leader Frank Watson at $1.6 million; House Republican Leader Tom Cross at $1.4 million, and House Speaker and Democratic Party Chair Michael Madigan at $1 million.

Top Legislative Races
(Cash on hand June 30 plus fundraising totals from July 1 through November 2 9am)
52nd Senate - Champaign/ Urbana = $1,879,000
Judith Myers (R) $843,000
Michael Frerichs (D) $1,035,000
Joseph Parnarauskis (S) $1,000
49th Senate - Central IL = $1,629,000
Jeff Richey (R) $274,000
Deanna Demuzio (D) $1,355,000
34th Senate - Rockford = $1,155,000
Dave Syverson (R) $682,000
Dan Lewandowski (D) $473,000
42nd Senate - Aurora/Plainfield = $1,111,000
Terri Wintermute (R) $501,000
Linda Holmes (D) $610,000
22nd Senate - NW Suburbs = $1,039,000

Billie Roth (R) $475,000
Michael Noland (D) $564,000
107th House - Centralia = $1,605,000
John Cavaletto (R) $558,000
Kurt Granberg (D) $1,047,000
92nd House - Peoria = $1,356,000
Aaron Schock (R) $884,000
Bill Spears (D) $471,000
91st House - Peoria = $1,329,000
Daryl Dagit (R) $482,000
Mike Smith (D) $847,000
71st House - Quad Cities = $1,101,000
Steven Haring (R) $368,000
Mike Boland (D) $773,000
101st House - Decatur = $952,000
Dick Cain (R) $347,000
Robert Flider (D) $606,000

In contrast to the hyper-expensive, targeted contests, most legislative races throughout the state are dominated by a single candidate who will far outspend any opponent they may have. Almost half of all House races are uncontested, meaning that voters have no choice when they arrive at the polling booth. Many of those that are contested are not seriously challenged, as Illinois’ legislative map, drawn by a partisan Commission, discourages competition. The vast majority of incumbent legislators will be returned to office with little or no opposition.

In statewide races, Democrats continue their financial dominance. Even as one poll shows the gubernatorial race to be a dead heat, Gov. Rod Blagojevich enjoys a three-to-one fundraising advantage. Most of the money raised by statewide candidates has come in very large increments from donors who gave more than $10,000. Contributions of this size are banned in most other states and for all federal candidates. Because Illinois law places no restrictions on giving, some candidates have become reliant on very large donors.

Statewide Candidates
(Cash on hand June 30 plus fundraising totals from July 1 through November 2 9am)
Governor = $22,315,000
Rod Blagojevich (D) $16,572,000
Judy Baar Topinka (R) $5,714,000
Rich Whitney (G) $29,000
Atty General = $3,029,000
Lisa Madigan (D) $2,935,000
Stewart Umholtz (R) $94,000
David Black (G) No committee
Secy of State = $3,335,000
Jesse White (D) $2,414,000
Dan Rutherford (R) $920,000
Karen “Young” Peterson (G) No committee
Comptroller = $1,445,000
Dan Hynes (D) $1,265,000
Carole Pankau (R) $179,000
Alicia Snyder (G) No committee
Treasurer = $3,678,000
Alexi Giannoulias (D) $2,808,000
Christine Radogno (R) $869,000
Dan Rodriguez Schlorff (G) No committee

The Illinois Campaign for Political Reform (ICPR) is a non-profit, non-partisan public interest organization conducting research and advocating reforms to promote public participation in government, address the role of money in politics and encourage integrity, accountability and transparency in government. The late U.S. Sen. Paul Simon founded ICPR in 1997.

The Sunshine Project is based at the University of Illinois at Springfield and is funded by the Joyce Foundation. Its goal is to increase public awareness and understanding of the role of money in Illinois politics.

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