Friday, October 31, 2008

Updates to Legislative, Judicial, and Cook County State's Attorney fundraising

59th District Senate Race Likely to Break Record

As the 2008 General Election campaigns head into the final weekend, candidates in hotly contested races have reported record amounts of campaign fundraising. Although most legislative races are uncontested, the top ten legislative races, those that appear winnable to both parties, have reported almost $12 million in receipts to date. And the race for the 59th Senate Seat in far Southern Illinois is posed to break the old record for spending in a state Senate campaign.

The Illinois Campaign for Political Reform (ICPR) and the Sunshine Project have also examined contributions in state judicial races and the Cook County State's Attorney. This analysis found a handful of trial court races that are likely to see over $100,000 in combined spending. The only seat on the state Supreme Court and all three seats on the appellate courts are uncontested, but several circuit (trial) court races have reported large receipts.

Legislative Races

As usual there have been large infusions of money from political committees controlled by the four legislative leaders. But because Senate President Emil Jones, D-Chicago, will retire soon, several contenders for that position have raised more than $1 Million and they are using that money to make contributions to the campaigns of other Democrats seeking to retain or win seats in the Senate

Top Senate races include:

(1) In the 59th District, Sen. Gary Forby, D-Benton, reported $1,175,600 while his opponent, Republican Ken Burzynsksi of Benton reported $840,400, for combined $2,016,000. This race is well within striking distance of the spending record for a Senate seat. The previous record was set in this same District in 2006, when Sen. Forby and then-challenger Ron Summers combined to spend $2,465,000.

(2) In the 42nd District, Republican Terri Ann Wintermute of Bolingbrook, reported $789,500 while Sen. Linda Holmes, D-Aurora, reported $782,300 while her opponent, for a combined $1,571,700.

(3) In the 26th District, Republican Dan Duffy of Lake Barrington reported $796,800 while Democrat Bill Gentes of Round Lake reported $173,200 for a combined $970,000 in the race for the open seat left by the retiring William Peterson, Republican of Long Grove.

(4) In the 45th District, appointed Republican Sen. Tim Bivins of Dixon reported $760,000 while Democrat Marty Mulcahey of Galena reported $178,700 for a combined $938,700 in the race for the open seat left by the retiring Sen. Todd Sieben, Republican of Geneseo.

(5) In the 33rd District, Sen. Dan Kotowski, D- Park Ridge, reported $658,900 while his opponent, Republican Michael Sweeney of Arlington Heights reported $247,400 for a combined $906,300.

Top House Races include:

(1) In the 85th District, Rep. Brent Hassert, R-Romeoville, reported $778,200 while his opponent, Democrat Emily Klunk-McAsey of Lockport reported $510,100 for a combined $1,288,200.

(2) In the 92nd District, Democrat Jehan Gordon of Peoria reported $636,200 while Republican Joan Gordon Krupa of Peoria Heights reported $584,900 for a combined $1,221,100 in the race for the open seat left by Republican Aaron Schock of Peoria, now a candidate for U.S. Congress.

(3) In the 69th District, Challenger Greg Tuite, D-Rockford, reported $578,700 while incumbent Republican Ron Wait of Hinkley reported $417,000 for a combined $995,700.

(4) In the 96th District, Democrat Dianne McGuire of Naperville reported $534,800 while Republican Darlene Senger of Naperville reported $386,800 for a combined $921,700 in the race for the open seat left by the retiring Republican Joe Dunn of Naperville.

(5) In the 17th District, Rep. Beth Coulson, Republican of Glenview, reported $458,400 while Democrat Daniel Biss of Evanston reported $352,700 for a combined $811,100.

One candidate in one race has reported receipts of more than $1 million. Rep. Jay Hoffman, D-Collinsville, reported having $1.7 million available, including $479,400 raised since July 1, and $113,500 of that in the last week alone. Rep. Hoffman's Republican opponent, Dwight Kay of Glen Carbon, reported $305,400. Whether this race sets a record or even crosses the million dollar spending mark depends entirely on Hoffman's assessment of how much he is willing to spend to hold on to the seat.

Judicial Races

Circuit Court races have traditionally seen smaller fundraising than legislative contests. Fewer interest groups have gotten involved, and the size of the districts and number of voters has typically been smaller. Because the size of circuits varies so widely around the state, it is difficult to draw comparisons between one race and another, and it is difficult to say what the record would be for spending in these races. In the 2008 General Election, the Circuit Court races with the most fundraising include:

(1) In the 16th Circuit in Kane, DeKalb and Kendall counties, Republican Patricia Piper Golden of Dundee reported $114,700 while Democrat John Noverini of Carpentersville reported $105,100 for a combined $219,800.

(2) In the 2nd Circuit in southeast Illinois, Republican David Overstreet of Mt. Vernon reported $132,600 while Democrat L. James Hanson of Mt. Vernon reported $40,900 for a combined $173,400.

(3) In the Cook County 12th Subcircuit Devlin vacancy, Democrat Pamela Lora of Mt. Prospect reported $102,500 while Republican Laura Morask of Park Ridge reported $56,800 for a combined $159,400.

(4) In the 1st Circuit in the southernmost part of Illinois, Democrat Steve Stone of Cartersville reported $81,000 while Republican James R. "Randy" Moore of Cartersville reported $33,700 for a combined $114,600.

(5) In the Cook County 4th Subcircuit, Democrat Patrick Rogers of Western Springs reported $87,900 while Republican Maureen Masterson-Pulia of Westchester reported $9,900 for a combined $97,800.

What's striking about judicial races this year is that none of the contests for county-wide seats in Cook County -- one for Supreme Court, two for Appellate Court, and nine for Circuit Court -- are even contested. This tactical retreat by the Republicans (and Greens) recalls the 2000 election, when a similar decision in the Supreme Court race allowed the Democrats to send resources to their candidate in the nominally Republican Third District. The $700,000 infusion, considered massive at the time, helped elect a Supreme Court Justice.

In these 2008 contests, we see the same dynamic playing out, as well-funded Democrats are running strong in the nominally Republican 4th and 12th subcircuits. There are no similarly well-funded Republicans or Greens in largely Democratic subcircuits. A change in campaign finance laws, to offer either public financing options or incentives for small donations, may alter this dynamic, which deprives most voters in Cook County of any real choice when voting for judges.

Cook County State's Attorney

The hottest race in Cook County appears to be for the State's Attorney's office, left open by the retirement of Democrat Dick Devine. Democrat Anita Alvarez of River Forest has reported $736,000 in receipts while Republican Tony Peraica of Riverside has reported $179,400 for a combined $915,400.

This report is the fourth in a series during the final weeks of the 2008 General Election campaign season. Earlier reports covered contribution totals, top donors to legislative races and the constitutional convention referendum, and giving by contenders to the Senate presidency, are all available at www.ilcampaign.org. ICPR and the Sunshine Project do not endorse candidates and have not taken a position on the con-con question.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Contenders to the Senate Presidency Donate Over $1 Million to Democratic Candidates to the State Senate

Belleville's Clayborne, Chicago's Cullerton Lead in Giving

In the weeks since Senate President Emil Jones, D-Chicago, announced he would not seek reelection, contenders to replace him as Senate President have given more than $1 million to the campaigns of the candidates who likely will select the next Senate President -- other Democratic senators running for reelection and Democratic newcomers challenging Republican incumbents.

An analysis by the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform (ICPR) and the Sunshine Project demonstrates the giant leap in campaign contributions by the men seeking to replace Jones. In the 18 months prior to Jones' retirement announcement, these senators transferred just $61,300 to other Senate Democrats.

"While money is easy to quantify, Senate Democrats will likely consider several factors when choosing their next leader," said Cindi Canary, Director of ICPR. "But it looks like they believe supporting other senators now with campaign funds will prompt those same senators to return the favor later by voting one of the benefactors into the top Senate job."

If the contest to succeed Jones turns on money, the top two candidates will be Sen. James Clayborne, D-Belleville, who has given $418,000 to other Senate Democrats, and Sen. John Cullerton, D-Chicago, who has given $336,000.

Illinois has no limits on transfers of funds between candidates and no limits on contributions by special interests to candidates. Many of the donations made by the contenders would be illegal if made between candidates in most other states, or between candidates for federal office.

It will take 30 votes to elect the next Senate president. If neither Clayborne nor Cullerton can put together a coalition of 30 of their colleagues, a compromise candidate may emerge. Based on their transfers to Democratic Senate candidates, this second tier would include Sen. Don Harmon, D-Oak Park, who has transferred $70,000; Sen. Jeff Schoenberg, D-Evanston, who has transferred $60,000, and Sen. Terry Link, D-Waukegan, who has transferred $58,000. Others giving at least $10,000 include Sen. Ira Silverstein, D-Chicago, Sen. John Sullivan, D-Rushville, and Sen. A.J. Wilhelmi, D- Joliet.

Sen. Clayborne has transferred money from his own political committee, Friends of Clayborne. Top donors to his political committee include the Illinois Education Association, AT&T and Ameren.

Sen. Cullerton has used money from his committee, Citizens for John Cullerton, but he has also formed a new committee, the Senate Democratic Victory Fund. Top donors to his two funds include Chicago Wolves Chairman Don Levin, Sen. Heather Steans, D-Chicago, her husband Leo Smith, and her parents Harrison and Lois Steans; and the Illinois Hospital Association. Of the second tier, only Sen. Schoenberg has created a new committee, Deep Blue Illinois, to augment giving by his own committee.

The show of fundraising prowess comes as the Senate Democrats hold 37 of the 59 seats in the Senate, with hopes that a strong Democratic turnout for their former colleague and current Democratic Presidential nominee Barack Obama will further bolster their numbers. Giving by the Illinois Senate Democratic Fund (ISDF), the caucus political committee which is still controlled by Senate President Jones, has been down appreciably this year compared to recent cycles (ISDF expenditures are down from $2.4 million in the comparable period in 2004 and $3.6 million in 2006 to $803,000 in 2008), but these presidential contenders have helped to make up some of the decline. Most of funds from contenders have been transferred to incumbents, but a handful of challengers are also benefiting. Top beneficiaries include:

• Sen. Gary Forby, D- Benton: $300,000
• Sen. Linda Holmes, D-Aurora: $241,000
• Sen. Dan Kotowski, D-Park Ridge: $92,000
• Candidate Bill Gentes, a Democrat from Round Lake: $84,500
• Candidate Peter Gutzmer, a Democrat from Hoffman Estates: $76,500

Traditionally, legislative caucuses have looked to their leader to play several important roles. Fundraising is one of these, but other factors are expected to include political acumen in a divisive climate and responsiveness to caucus members. This is the first time a caucus leader has stepped down since 2003, when the new legislative map gave control of both chambers to the Democrats. Sen. Emil Jones has led the Senate Democratic Caucus since the retirement of Sen. Phil Rock in 1993.

This report is the third in a series during the final weeks of the 2008 General Election campaign season. For earlier reports, which covered contribution totals and top donors to legislative races and the constitutional convention question, visit www.ilcampaign.org. ICPR and the Sunshine Project do not endorse candidates and have not taken a position on the con-con question.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

TOP 10 DONORS TO LEGISLATIVE CONTESTS GAVE $4.3 MILLION

Same Donors Gave Another $440,000 to Anti-Con-Con Group

With a week to go before Election Day, many candidates for General Assembly are raising campaign money at a furious pace and just 10 contributors account for nearly 20 percent of all funds raised by legislative candidates in recent months.

A dozen legislative races are approaching or have passed the $1 million mark; all told, legislative candidates have raised more than $20 million since July 1.

The Illinois Campaign for Political Reform (ICPR) and the Sunshine Project examined campaign disclosure reports filed by incumbent legislators and candidates for the General Assembly to compile this list of top donors.

Illinois has no limits on the source or size of campaign contributions. Many of these groups have made contributions to candidates that would be illegal if made to candidates in other states or for federal office. Much of this money is reported as receipts by caucus and party leaders, who in turn transfer funds to individual candidates.

Top Donors to Legislative Incumbents and Candidates, 7/1/08-10/26/08
(1) Illinois Education Association (IEA): $877,000
(2) Illinois State Medical Society (ISMS) $565,000
(3) Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) and affiliates: $558,000
(4) AFSCME: $410,000
(5) Illinois Health Care Council: $398,000
(6) Associated Beer Distributors of Illinois: $389,000
(7) Illinois Hospital Association: $305,000
(8) Personal PAC: $267,000
(9) Fred Eychaner, founder of Newsweb: $253,000
(10) Illinois Association of Realtors: $251,000
(11) Illinois Chamber of Commerce: $236,000
(12) Illinois Trial Lawyers Association (ITLA): $229,000
(13) Altria Group/Philip Morris Tobacco: $228,000
(14) Service Employees International Union (SEIU): $225,000
(15) Ameren: $258,000
(16) Associated Firefighters of Illinois: $194,000
(17) Illinois Dentist Association (Dent-IL PAC): $194,000
(18) AT&T: $180,000
(19) International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150: $161,000
(20) International Union of Operating Engineers Local 399: $153,000


Many of these Top 10 donors have also helped fund the opposition to a referendum to authorize a state constitutional convention. The Alliance to Protect the Illinois Constitution (APIC), a political organization formed earlier this year to oppose the "con-con" has raised at least $1.2 million since July 1, including $440,000 from these top legislative donors. By contrast, two organizations in support of the con-con, Con Con Yes and Metro Chicago United PAC, have together reported total receipts of just $5,000.

Top Donors to the Alliance to Protect the Constitution
(1) Illinois Federation of Teachers and affiliated: $300,000
(2) Illinois Education Association/National Education Association: $225,000
(3) Exelon: $100,000
(4) Illinois Coalition for Jobs, Growth, and Prosperity: $92,500
(5 - tie) American Insurance Association: $50,000
(5 - tie) Health Care Services Corp: $50,000

ICPR and the Sunshine Project do not endorse candidates and have not taken a stand on the constitutional referendum. ICPR and the Sunshine Project are monitoring reports on those targeted legislative races. For a chart of contribution totals on those races, visit www.ilcampaign.org.

The Ethics of the Ethics Vote

To paraphrase a major newspaper columnist, a little bird told us that some challengers are trying to turn the vote to enact the pay-to-play ban despite Gov. Blagojevich's veto against incumbents. These challengers are apparently claiming that the vote to override the veto was a vote against ethics. Nothing could be further from the truth.

HB 824, the pay-to-play bill, was a hard-fought, carefully-vetted measure with wide support, under the dome and outside of it. The Governor's re-write was sloppy and likely unconstitutional.

After the Governor vetoed HB 824, the correct, ethical vote was to override his veto. We commend all legislators who made that decision.

Friday, October 24, 2008

EIGHT GENERAL ASSEMBLY BATTLES HAVE PASSED OR ARE NEAR THE $1 MILLION MARK AND OTHERS LIKELY TO JOIN

Southern Illinois Senate Contest Could Break $$$ Record

Campaign contributions to election battles for four state legislative seats have passed the $1 million mark, and four others should soon reach the $1 million level, according to research by the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform (ICPR) and the Sunshine Project.

One of those campaigns – a contest for state senator from the most southern district in the state – could break the $2.4 million record for most money spent by candidates running for the Illinois General Assembly.

A total of at least $1.89 million in campaign contributions has been reported by the campaigns of Sen. Gary Forby, D-Benton, and Ken W. Burzynski, a Republican also from Benton, and both candidates are still collecting contributions to pay for advertising and other expenses in the final days of the campaign.

In 2004, the combined spending of campaigns by Forby and Ron Summers, his 2004 opponent, established a new spending record of $2.4 million.

The 2008 Forby-Burzynski contribution total stands at $1.89 million. That total, as well as others totals in this report, represents the available balance of funds for each candidate on June 30 and individual contributions reported by the campaigns between July 1 to October 24. The exact amount of spending won’t be made public until next January.

The races reporting the biggest fundraising totals to date follow:

• Senate District 59, total of $1,895,099 -- Forby, $1,112,395; and Burzynski, $782,703.

• Senate District 42, total of $1,381,057 -- Sen. Linda Holmes, D-Aurora, $715,692; and Terri Ann Wintermute, a Republican from Bolingbrook, $665,364.

• House District 85, total $1,156,874 – Rep. Brent Hassert, R-Romeoville, $740,784; and Emily Klunk-McAsey, Democrat from Lockport, $416,090.

• House District 92, total $1,050,014 – Jehan Gordon, Democrat from Peoria, $531,156; and Joan Gore Krupa, Republican from Peoria Heights, $518,857.

• Senate District 26, total of $894,306 – Dan Duffy, Republican from Lake Barrington, $732,099; and Bill Gentes, Democrat from Round Lake. $162,207.

• Senate District 45, total of $874,464 – Sen. Tim Bivins, R-Dixon, $712,721; and Marty Mulcahey, Democrat from Galena, $161,742.

• Senate District 33, total of $866,042 – Sen. Daniel W. Kotowski, D-Park Ridge, $628,285; and Michael H. Sweeney, Republican from Arlington Heights, $237,757.

• House District 69, total of $833,583 – Greg Tuite, Democrat from Rockford, $538,151; and Rep. Ronald A. Waite, R-Belvidere, $295,432.

• House District 17, total of $797,872 – Rep. Elizabeth Coulson, Republican from Glenview, $447,195; and Daniel Biss, D-Evanston, $350,676.

• House District 96, total of $701,086 – Dianne A. McGuire, Democrat from Naperville, $497,659; and Darlene J. Senger, Republican from Naperville, $203,427.


Because such large sums are being contributed to these candidates, most of these races appear to be competitive or were considered to be winnable by both parties at some time during the campaign season. However, the vast majority of legislative races are dominated by one candidate, and some incumbents don’t even have an opponent on the ballot.

All 118 House seats and 39 of the 59 Senate seats are at stake this year, but many of them are uncontested. Only 21 Senate seats and 60 House seats have two or more candidates on the ballot, and of those, only about 18 total appear to be attracting substantial contributions.

ICPR and the Sunshine Project are monitoring reports on those targeted races. For a chart of contribution totals on those races, visit www.ilcampaign.org.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

YOU CAN BE A CANDIDATE AND NEVER FILE AN ACCURATE CAMPAIGN FINANCE DISCLOSURE REPORT!

Ever run up a bill for tens of thousands of dollars and not give it a second thought?

No, neither have we.

But Sen. Iris Martinez, D-Chicago, apparently wasn’t giving much thought to the $190,000 that her campaign committee owed to a company sending out campaign mailings for her campaign.

In July, the Friends of Iris Y. Martinez committee filed its semi-annual disclosure report with the State Board of Elections. This is the report that would have included receipts, expenditures and debts from her primary contest in March.

Martinez is not the only candidate filing incomplete disclosure reports, but her absentmindedness (if that’s what it was) points up yet again the need for the State Board of Elections to crack down on erroneous disclosure reports. If committees thought they might be audited and punished for failure to disclose information required by law, there would be far fewer mistakes and omissions.

None of the Martinez campaign’s reports to the State Board of Elections list the debt, and apparently we only know about it now because Rich Miller, owner of the Capital Fax newsletter and popular blogger (thecapitolfaxblog.com) thought something looked fishy.

When Rich Miller reported Tuesday in his must-read Capital Fax newsletter that the Illinois Senate Democratic Fund, controlled by Senate President Emil Jones, had given “a whopping $190,000 check” to the Martinez committee, it must have triggered some alarm bells in the Martinez campaign headquarters.

Miller and his readers were wondering why Jones would deliver such a big check after she had won a tough primary fight and her Republican opponent withdrew from the ballot back in May.

Miller reported her explanation in today’s editions. Martinez told Miller that she needed the money to pay the debt, which she had failed to report on her earlier public disclosure reports.

This all raises a few questions. What if the Senate Democratic committee had not reported the transfer of the $190,000 and Martinez had not reported receiving it? Quite likely, we never would not have known until long after Election Day. If then!

The State Board Elections doesn’t audit campaign finance reports. The Illinois campaign disclosure laws operate on the “honor system.” Even the most casual observers of Illinois politics knows that’s a mistake.

Some 3,600 campaign committees are active in Illinois. When it comes to filing accurate and complete disclosure reports, all of them operate on the honor system.

Earlier this year, the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform reached a settlement with Rep. Annazette Collins, D-Chicago, who agreed to issue an apology for filing inaccurate and incomplete disclosure of contributions to her election campaigns from 2005 through 2007. Her campaign committee agreed to pay a fine of $20,000. We got to that point only because ICPR questioned why the Collins committee reported no contributions or expenditures for three years running. Collins acknowledged that her campaigns had received more than $110,000 in contributions and had spent more than $120,000 during those three years.

Maybe all that campaigning makes you forgetful.

But it reminds us of a classic Steve Martin routine.

From a 1/21/78 Saturday Night Live transcript, here’s Martin:

You.. can be a millionaire and never pay taxes! You can be a millionaire and never pay taxes! You say: "Steve, how can I be a millionaire and never pay taxes?"

First, get a million dollars.

Now, you say: "Steve, what do I say to the tax man when he comes to my door and says, 'You have never paid taxes'?"

Two simple words. Two simple words in the English language: "I forgot!" How many times do we let ourselves get into terrible situations because we don't say "I forgot"?

We hope Sen. Martinez and Rep. Collins don’t forget again and that the General Assembly directs the State Board of Elections to begin conducting random audits of campaign disclosure reports.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

ICPR STUDY SAYS ILLINOIS ECONOMIC INTEREST STATEMENTS ARE WOEFULLY INADEQUATE

MOST POPULAR ANSWERS ON FORM: “NONE” AND “DOES NOT APPLY”

State and local candidates on the November ballot are required to complete “Statements of Economic Interest,” but the government form requires so little information that most answers are of little to no value to voters, according to the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform (ICPR).

Because the questions on the form seek minimal information about income, investments and potential conflicts of interest, 28 percent of all state legislators and their opponents in the 2008 election answered “none” to all eight questions on the Statement of Economic Interest (SEI).

ICPR examined SEIs filed by incumbents and candidates for the General Assembly, the six statewide officeholders and candidates for open judicial seats. The findings included:

• More than 75 percent of SEI questions were answered with “None” or “Does Not Apply.”

• A side-by-side comparison of the state and federal forms submitted by congressional candidates who are members of the Illinois General Assembly demonstrated the weakness of the Illinois SEI. The federal forms revealed information about personal income and investments that did not even have to be mentioned on the Illinois form.

• Fourteen of the 280 state legislators and challengers disclosed a “close economic association” with a lobbyist but did not – and were not required to – disclose any information about the magnitude of the “economic association.”

• Even though the Illinois Constitution and state statutes make it clear that candidates for state office must file statements of their economic interest and all do file SEIs prior to the primary election, more than one-quarter of the candidates for the General Assembly did not file updated forms prior to the May 1 deadline for filing forms detailing economic interests for 2007.

“Upwards of 100,000 public officeholders and employees complete these forms every year, and virtually all of them are worthless,” said Cynthia Canary, ICPR Director. “Voters deserve to know the sources and amounts of income and about the investments held by state and local officials, but Illinois laws are so weak that the Statements of Economic Interest hide much more than they disclose to the public.”

ICPR’s report made the following recommendations for strengthening state requirements:

• The Illinois Statement of Economic Interest should mandate reporting of the person’s source and amount of income; value of investments and income from each; the purchase and sale date of investments; and whether investments and income accrue to the filer, spouse or minor child.

• Information should be reported about investments held outside of Illinois, as well as those currently reportable investments within the state, and the disclosure threshold for investments should be low enough to capture all investments of $100 or more.

• In addition to asking the identity of any lobbyist maintaining a “close economic relationship” with the filer, the SEI should elicit information about lobbyists who are related to the filer, and the extent of their financial benefit.

• SEIs should be filed electronically and in a searchable format.

• Winners in primary elections should be required to file new reports for the previous calendar year no later than May 1 of the election year.

• Enforcement of the economic disclosure laws should be enhanced, and the Illinois Secretary of State should be required to conduct random audits to determine the accuracy of filed SEIs.

“Illinois’ Statements of Economic Interest are deplorable,” said David Morrison, Deputy Director of ICPR and lead researcher and writer of the study. “The questions on the form were drafted more to obfuscate than to enlighten. By failing to ask meaningful questions and demand detail, the questions keep potential conflicts of interest hidden, and Illinoisans are left in the dark.”

The full report can be found at www.ilcampaign.org.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Zero Plus Four is a Problem for Illinois

A new Rasmussen poll cited in today's subscriber-only Capitol Fax apparently finds voters extraordinarily dissatisfied with our governor. Zero percent of respondents rated Gov. Blagojevich's job in office as "excellent" and 4% rated him "good." That's a combined 4% in the good or better department, which pollsters commonly equate with approval ratings when they don’t ask specifically about approval. And the margin of error is likely +/- 4.5%. In contrast, 29% of respondents rated the governor "fair" and 65%, nearly two out of three Illinoisans polled, rated him "poor."

Another Rasmussen survey a few months ago put the governor's approval rating at 13%. Not easy to go down from 13%, you might think. But this governor can do what no one else thinks is possible. He can unite Democrats and Republicans behind a common theme. So kudos for that.

A 2000 General Election exit survey I found on-line suggests that 32% Illinois voters held a favorable view of then-Gov. George Ryan, which was after the first two dozen Operation Safe Roads convictions but still nearly three years before he was indicted and four years before his conviction. It would seem that George Ryan was 8 times as popular as Gov. Blagojevich.

Kidding aside, this governor has got to recognize that he has a serious problem on his hands. He has no credibility on reform issues. None. Zilch. Zero. And no degree of finger pointing, no amount of pounding the bully pulpit, no number of press releases will change that. Drop the "my way or the highway" approach. Forget about "are you with us or against us". Stop using "reform" proposals as vehicles for your own private vendettas. Focus more on the good of the state and less on the ego of the office holder.

Step by step, Illinois' political culture will improve. Gov. Blagojevich wants to be the poster child for reform. Right now, he's the leading example for why Illinois needs reform. At 4%, can he turn that around?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Art for Reform's Sake

Noted Chicago-based artist Ellen Rothenberg is coordinating an installation of her large-scale prints and works by other artists around the theme "Public Address." Here's a poster for the event. What is especially humbling for us at ICPR is that she has decided to donate the proceeds from the sale of multiples to ICPR to aid in our work promoting transparency, participation, and the democratic process. "Public Address" has an opening reception this Friday the 17th of October and runs through November 9 at Phaiz, 673 N. Milwaukee Avenue in Chicago.

We hope you'll join us there on Friday the 17th!



PublicAddressFinal.pdf

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

New PACs

It's October and there are new PACs in the air. Here's a listing of some interesting ones. Details on all of these are available through the State Board of Elections website; search committees by either the name or the State ID.


Senate President PACs

Sen. John Cullerton has a new PAC, formed September 8, called Senate Democratic Victory Fund (State ID 9796; or S9796). It shows $35,500 in receipts, including $25K from the Hospitals. Sen. Jeff Schoenberg has one, too: "Deep Blue PAC" (S9815) formed October 6; it's purpose is to "Support Democratic candidates for Illinois Senate and other offices." It shows $200K total; $100K each from Schoenberg's regular fund and from JB Pritzker.


Con Con PACs:

Metro Chicago United PAC (S9797) is one PAC that urges a yes vote for the Constitutional Convention. Another is Con Con Yes (S9806). Neither report any receipts, as of yet. The only Anti-Con Con PAC I know of, the Alliance to Protect the Constitution (S9745), formed a few months ago and shows $275K in receipts.


Tomorrow's Candidates

Tomorrow's Democrats (S9799) is a metro-east area group to "recruit young professionals to the Democratic Party." It's chaired by Brendon Kelly, whose name is too familiar for me to recognize.

Doug Whitley has formed Whitley for Governor (S9804). And possibly unrelated, Randy White for Lt. Gov is S9809. Neither shows receipts yet.

Friends of Emil Jones III is S9810. It was formed too recently to report any receipts. Of course, he is running against a former clown, so maybe he doesn't need any.


Other New PACs of Note:

There's a new Move Illinois Forward, but this one is chaired by Boyd Ingemunson, and I can't imagine why he chose that name. It's S9777.

Dan Duffy is running for Senate and his main PAC is S9459, but he and Rep. Ed Sullivan have also formed Clover PAC (S9769) to support "Dan Duffy and Ed Sullivan" and other like-minded pro-business candidates.

The Painters District #14 has formed a PAC (Painters District #14 Council PAC). It's S9765. What's remarkable is that they report $349,445.66 in receipts in the first half of the year, including $110,683.89 in non-itemized receipts (which suggests a minimum of 738 donors). They used to give directly; now they're giving through a PAC, and (I'd guess) soliciting members to fund it.

Professional Towing & Recovery PAC (S9759) is not based in Lincoln Park but both of the officers have a good "aarrgh" in their names (well, the chair is William Howard, but the treasurer is Richard Bartell.) So maybe these are Pirates after all.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Just Weeks to Election Day - Get your information here

The 2008 General Election is just 25 days away. As voters turn more and more attention to the contested seats on this fall's ballot, ICPR is stepping up and posting more and more information to our website, ilcampaign.org. The site now includes:

* Updated campaign receipt and expenditure data through June 30, 2008 for all legislative and judicial candidates, as well as incumbents not seeking re-election and the statewide constitutionals.

* ICPR's candidate questionnaire replies. Nearly 100 candidates told us where they stand on reform issues; voters can find out by clicking here.

* Our Voters Guide asked candidates for judicial office about their background; their replies can be found here.

* Our list of career patrons and profiles of large donors have all been updated.


Candidates began to file A1 reports earlier this week (A1 reports cover campaign contributions of more than $500, and are filed within two working days of receipt). The Pre-Election disclosure report, listing all reportable contributions between July 1 and October 5, may also be available, though the deadline for filing is about two weeks away. Those raw reports are available through the State Board of Elections website.

Check back to ICPR for updates on the top legislative races and interesting donors. It's all at ilcampaign.org.