Coalition warns that Illinois New Contribution Limits Law Threatened
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MAY 23, 2012
CONTACT: Brian Gladstein, ICPR
CHICAGO – Less than two years after Illinois placed a prohibition on unlimited contributions to political candidates and political action committees, its viability is being threatened by legislation pending in Springfield, a coalition of reform organizations warned on Wednesday.
The coalition asking for legislators to vote no on SB3722 includes CHANGE Illinois!, Common Cause Illinois, Citizen Advocacy Center, Illinois Campaign for Political Reform, Illinois PIRG, and the League of Women Voters of Illinois.
“By abolishing contribution limits in some of the most hotly contested elections,
Senate Bill 3722 would rip a hole in the limits law, which was passed in the wake of the Blagojevich corruption scandal,” said Brian Gladstein, Executive Director of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform.
SB 3722 would remove campaign contribution limits on all contributions to all candidates running in an election where spending by an independent committee (super PAC) or individual reaches a threshold amount of $250,000 in support of a candidate in a statewide race or $100,000 in an election for state legislator, mayor, judge and all other non-statewide contests.
“In 2009, the people of Illinois fought so hard to reform the campaign finance system that the political power structure finally relented and passed the state’s first limits on campaign contributions,” Gladstein said. “Voters don’t want to return to business as usual in Illinois, and we’re calling on legislators to reject this bill, which would undermine the new system of limits.”
The limits loophole is contained in an amendment, which surfaced in an Illinois House committee last week, and the full House could act on SB 3722 in the final days of the spring session.
“We haven’t even experienced a full election cycle under the system of campaign limits, and already there is a move to weaken it,” said Deborah Harrington, a Co-Chair of the CHANGE Illinois! coalition. “No one knows whether independent expenditure groups will become players in state and local races, and they should not be used as an excuse to return to the old unlimited system. The General Assembly established a Task Force which has been meeting to consider any needed changes to campaign finance law, and this legislation bypasses this process."
“Creating a loophole that increases the influence of wealthy donors in our elections in an effort to address the problem of independent expenditure campaigns and super PACs is like fighting a fire with gasoline,” said Brian Imus, Director of Illinois PIRG. “If enacted, this short-sighted proposal will allow more special interest money, returning Illinois back to the days of Blagojevich-style corruption.
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