ICPR Finds Million-Dollar Shower of Campaign Contributions Related to Smart Grid Electric Legislation

Wednesday, November 2, 2011
Contact: Brian Gladstein

CHICAGO – In just the past 10 months, Illinois legislators have received more than $1 million in campaign contributions from supporters and opponents of controversial legislation granting electric utilities the power to raise rates without the approval of state regulators, according to the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform’s (ICPR) comprehensive review of campaign finance reports.

Supporters of the so-called “Smart Grid” legislation (Senate Bill 1652) outspent opponents by a margin of more than 4 to 1. The utility contributions totaled $867,258, and the opposition, which includes the SEIU Health Care union, contributed $185,100 to the campaign committees of legislators and to party and caucus committees controlled by legislative leaders.

“This money flowed into campaign coffers not during the middle of any tight election campaigns but in the middle of a hard fought legislative battle,” said Brian Gladstein, ICPR’s Executive Director. “When election campaigns finally do get into gear, voters will want to know whether the contributions influenced floor votes.”

Gov. Quinn vetoed SB 1652, but the General Assembly recently voted to override his veto by a vote of 36 to 19 in the Senate and 74 to 42 in the House.

ICPR’s research including how legislators voted and how much each received from both sides in the Smart Grid debate can be found here.

Here are some of the findings:

  • Just in 2011, the 110 legislators who voted with the electric utilities to override Gov. Quinn's veto of the bill received an average of $7,616 in campaign contributions from the electric industry and $2,178 from groups opposing SB 1652.
  • The 61 legislators voting to uphold Gov. Quinn’s veto received an average of $1,420 from groups opposing the bill and supporting the veto, and $2,178 from the electric industry.
  • Campaign committees controlled by the four legislative leaders – Senate President John Cullerton, Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno, House Speaker Michael J. Madigan and House Minority Leader Tom Cross – received the lion’s share of contributions from both sides of the debate. All four leaders voted for SB 1652. Their committees received a total of $295,650 in contributions from the supporters of SB 1652. The opponents of SB 1652 contributed a total of $69,000 to the leaders’ committees. Legislative leaders have traditionally provided most of the campaign money in hotly contested House and Senate races.
  • The supporters of SB 1652 contributing the most were Exelon/ComEd ($290,172) and Ameren ($409,688). SEIU Health Care ($343,926) had the largest total contributions among the opponents.


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