Friday, April 01, 2011

Over $2 Million in Resources for Next Tuesday's Runoffs

SEIU dominates the race with 24% of all reported funding

Heading in to the final weekend before the Chicago run-offs, candidates and interest groups are reporting over $2 million in resources to influence voters.

Combined, disclosure reports indicate that candidates in Tuesday's Chicago elections have $1.8 million in campaign contributions since the February elections. But that figure does not include $355,000 in independent expenditures made by SEIU. Combining direct contributions and independent expenditures, SEIU alone accounts for nearly one fourth of the resources devoted to the council run-offs.

Because of the new campaign finance law that took effect in January, this is the first election cycle to feature such independent expenditures. In the past, groups could coordinate unlimited activities with candidates. New contribution limits mean that donors who want to do more for candidates than the limits allow must do so without consulting with the candidate. SEIU is spending twice as much on these uncoordinated activities as they are giving directly to candidates.

Looking solely at direct giving to candidates, SEIU ranks second among all donors, behind the New Chicago Committee, a group that did not exist on the date of the February 22 election. New Chicago was formed by Mayor-Elect Rahm Emanuel to support aldermanic candidates in the run-off.

There's a lot of overlap in the recipients from these top donors, and the divisions of the 2007 Big Box/Wal-Mart fight seem to be over. Unlike in previous elections, large donors seem to be in agreement on who to support; money in each race appears to be concentrated in the same candidate.

Other top donors to aldermanic run-off candidates include UNITE HERE at $142K, AFSCME at $78K, and For a Better Chicago at $70K.

All of these numbers are up substantially since ICPR last reported on totals on Tuesday, March 29, and we expect more money and resources to appear in the disclosure reports in the final days before voting ends. Full disclosure reports are due to be filed with the State Board of Elections by Friday, April 15 for the first quarter of the year

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