Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The ads and the money in the Justice Kilbride retention campaign

The retention campaign of 3rd Judicial District Supreme Court Justice Tom Kilbride has spent the most money out of all other state high court campaigns this year.

Research by Justice At Stake and the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law shows that through Oct. 6, Kilbride’s campaign spent $393,000 on television airtime.

Kilbride's opponents, including the Illinois Civil Justice League (which operates political committee JUSTPAC), apparently have not run any television ads. Earlier this year, JUSTPAC said it aimed to raise $1 million to try to prevent Kilbride from getting the 60 percent of “yes” votes needed to hold another 10-year term on the state’s highest court.

However, JUSTPAC did put some money into airing a radio advertisement , which the Kilbride campaign promptly denounced for having a lie and which several radio stations reportedly pulled either because of the inaccuracy or because of tone of the ad.

Who has funded the groups’ ads remains a mystery, at least for the moment. Right now we have only a partial picture.

Current Illinois election law requires candidates and committees to file comprehensive fundraising reports every six months. In the months before an election, reporting requirements increase. Committees were last required to complete disclosure reports in late July, covering the first half of 2010. Additionally, beginning Oct. 4, committees must file A-1 reports, which disclose contributions of $500 or more within two business days if such a contribution is received during the 30 days before an election.

Next Monday, Oct. 18, is the deadline for committees to file pre-election reports which detail contributions received between July 1 and Oct. 3. Once that report comes in, we’ll have disclosure of all large contributions since the start of the year.

In the meantime, here’s what has been disclosed thus far:

Kilbride fundraising

The committee Kilbride used during his election campaign 10-years ago appears to be the primary vehicle for his retention effort.

State Board of Elections Records from Oct. 12 show that the Kilbride for Supreme Court Judge committee has raised a little more than $38,750 since its fundraising efforts resumed from a 10-year hiatus that began when Kilbride was first elected.

The Democratic justice also has received some money through a special retention committee formed in August. The Vote Yes Tom Kilbride Supreme Court committee already has filed its D-2 pre-election report. During that roughly three-month window, the retention committee raised a little more than $29,000, primarily from unions and the legal community, including law firms and attorneys. The committee also has filed one A-1, which added $1,000 to the committee’s total fundraising.

This retention committee transferred $15,500 to the justice’s other campaign committee, Kilbride for Supreme Court committee, on Sept. 28, the pre-election report shows.

Kilbride opponent fundraising


The Illinois Civil Justice League’s PAC has reported two large contributions this month: $13, 920 from the American Tort Reform Association and $10,000 from the Republican Renaissance PAC.

In the committee’s semi-annual report, JUSTPAC reported taking in $33,000 in total, in addition to some $53,000 that was already in the bank. But with expenses, at the end of the period, it had a little more than $28,000 in cash.

Vote NO Kilbride

The Vote NO Kilbride committee reported $6,100 in fundraising since its formation through the end of the first half of the year. Outside of $100 from its founder, Osco resident Jon A. Zahm, the rest of the committee’s cash came from Republican Renaissance, the Carpentersville-based group which also contributed to JUSTPAC.

For more on the Kilbride retention election, please visit our Retention Watch page and follow us on Twitter @ILCampaign.

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