Hey Brother, can I borrow $100k?

Why lend candidate money rather than donating it outright? Especially when there are no apparent tax benefits and the chances of ever being fully paid back seem something of a long shot? After all, in terms of reporting it’s all the same thing to the Illinois State Board of Elections whether funds come as a contribution, a loan or an in-kind.

It is a question that could be asked to Chicago Alderman Ed Burke and former Illinois Senate President Emil Jones, both of whom have made significant loans to advance the bid of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Pat Quinn.

Quinn is in deep in hock to committees affiliated with Ed Burke. In January 2010, Burke’s political committee and his Burnham committee each loaned Quinn 100K, while Burke’s 14th Ward Regular Democratic Committee ponied up $50K. Over the past few weeks, Burke’s committee and Burnham have each loaned another 100K to the Quinn Committee bringing the grand total to $450K.

Emil Jones has also been providing financing for the campaign. This month Jones has loaned the Quinn campaign $200K; he loaned an additional $150K in January 2010, leaving Quinn with a note for $350K.

It adds up to a lot of money, and no doubt the Quinn campaign is happy to have it even in the form of a loan, especially considering that Emil Jones didn’t appear to be a big Pat Quinn fan when he was Senate President.

Maybe the better question is why a candidate would solicit and/or accept a loan which by definition is something that is supposed to be paid back in full. Are there strings like interest rates or due dates? Is payment only expected if the candidate wins the election? Are they concerned about giving new meaning to the idiom “pay back is hell?”