Federal court ruling upholds Illinois' contribution limits for November election

Decision ensures that post-Blagojevich reform will remain intact throughout current campaign

 
CHICAGO – The Illinois Campaign for Political Reform (ICPR) on Friday applauded a federal judge’s decision to reject a lawsuit seeking the immediate elimination of Illinois’ campaign contribution limits.
 
In a ruling issued Friday, Oct. 5, federal district Judge Gary Feinerman rejected Illinois Liberty PAC’s request for a preliminary injunction of Illinois’ campaign finance law that limits the amount of money candidates and political committees can accept.
 
The decision ensures that the contribution limits system, which took effect Jan. 1, 2011, will remain in place for the remainder of the 2012 general election campaign. 
 
“This federal ruling ensures that rules to combat corruption in Illinois state government will remain in place in the coming weeks through this, the first general election under this important reform measure,” said ICPR Deputy Director David Morrison.
 
Illinois Liberty PAC, a political action committee affiliated with the Illinois Policy Institute, and Liberty PAC donor Edgar Bachrach filed a lawsuit in August seeking the immediate and permanent elimination of the state’s contribution limits. That lawsuit replaced the group’s initial complaint filed in July.
 
Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office represented the state, while the Campaign Legal Center, the Chicago Appleseed Fund for Justice and ICPR, with the assistance of local counsel David R. Melton and Thomas Rosenwein, filed an amici curiae brief in support of contribution limits.
 
“In a state where the last two governors have gone to jail for corruption, including one governor whose unlimited pursuit of campaign contributions was at the heart of the scandal, the court explicitly recognized that suspending the state’s contribution limits would reopen the door to corruption and do irreparable harm to Illinois and its citizens,” said Campaign Legal Center Senior Counsel Paul S. Ryan.
 
In his decision issued Friday, Judge Feinerman noted that Liberty PAC’s request would have returned Illinois to an unregulated campaign finance system, which was a component of numerous public corruption scandals.
 
“This would create a manifest possibility of actual or apparent corruption, an irreparable harm to Illinois, its citizens, and the public interest,” Feinerman’s decision said.
 
A broader lawsuit filed by Illinois Liberty PAC is still pending. However, in the decision rejecting Liberty PAC’s initial request Friday, Judge Feinerman noted previous court decisions suggest it is unlikely that the group’s effort will succeed.
 
The case is Illinois Liberty PAC (ILP) v. Madigan.
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