Friday, July 20, 2007

D2 Day

Today’s the day for campaign finance disclosure. The usual suspects have or will be filing at the State Board of Elections and ICPR and the Sunshine Project will start work standardizing the names, coding the donors and analyzing the receipts. In the meantime, here’s a summary of three new PACs that were active this Spring.

The First CD Victory PAC (Local ID # 13868) was formed on January 24, 2007 with Congressman Bobby Rush as Chair and Chicago man-about-town Elzie Higginbottom as Treasurer. Before the February elections it raised 43 donations totaling $118K (averaging $2.7K) and gave that money mostly to Aldermanic candidates in the First Congressional District, which Rush represents. Then something happened to the committee. Rush left as Chair, Higginbottom as took over, and the fund really started raising money. After the February 27 elections, the PAC raised another 75 donations totaling $544K (averaging $7.2K). Donors included a who’s who of Connected Chicago, along with a few big box retailers. And, as was widely noted at the time, the PAC started giving to Aldermanic candidates who were (1) in run-offs, regardless of which Congressional District they lived in, and (2) were perceived as being friendly to the Mayor. The funded ended the reporting period with $19K.

ActBlue Illinois (State ID #9277) is a Massachusetts-based in Massachusetts and formed late last year that raises money “To support all Democrats running for state legislative or statewide offices.” It looks like it’s taking a page from U.S. Senator Barack Obama and others who have focused on Internet fundraising on a national scale; but this one seeks to funnel that money into state legislative races. The PAC reported just under $24K in receipts, including about $7K in non-itemized receipts (ie, from donors who gave less than the $150 disclosure threshold). Of its itemized receipts, about half (52%) came from in-state while the rest came from Massachusetts, New York, Michigan, California – you get the idea. It’s an interesting idea in fundraising. Most of the money raised went to one candidate – Daniel Biss, a challenger for a House seat (and what didn’t go to Biss went to processing fees, not other candidates). The PAC ended the period with about $4K on hand.

Citizens for Tax Fairness, Healthcare & Education (State ID #9366) was formed earlier this year to “To advocate for and contribute to the public debate on tax fairness, healthcare and education.” They broadcast a bunch of TV spots ($800K worth, including a few radio ads) in support of Gov. Blagojevich’s proposed Gross Receipts Tax, but didn’t give to any candidates. Their receipts came from four PACs: the IEA ($400K), the IFT ($200K), the Illinois Hospital Assn ($250K), and Planned Parenthood Votes Illinois ($5K. And no, that’s not a typo, just a difference of scale). The Committee listed a PO Box for an address, but if there was ever any doubt who they were affiliated with, one donor listed an address matching the same street and suite number as Friends of Rod Blagojevich. The PAC ended the period with about $19K available.

That’s just three of the over 3,000 committees that should be filing by today. Go look at the State Board of Elections website to see what else is available. And check back to ICPR’s website for an updated Sunshine Database in a few weeks.

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