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Pat Quinn Signs Campaign Finance Bill Into Law When Nobody Is Looking Because It Reverses Post-Blago Reform

"The co-chairs of the CHANGE Illinois! coalition on Friday said Gov. Quinn's signing of Senate Bill 3722 has damaged the state's campaign contribution limits system and opened the door to unlimited contributions in election contests where independent expenditure groups spend significant amounts of money," the group said in a statement released to the media.

Here's the rest:

"Under the new law, there will be no limits on campaign contributions in any election where spending by an independent committee (or super PAC) exceeds $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.

"'This new law could open the floodgates to a torrent of special interest money surging into the campaigns of candidates seeking some of the most important offices in our state,' said CHANGE Illinois! Co-Chair Peter Bensinger. 'Those unlimited contributions will carry more opportunities for the kind of corruption that has denied Illinoisans a fair and honest representation in their governments.'

"The Illinois limits system, which was passed in 2009 in the wake of the Blagojevich scandal, became effective in January 2011. Due to the General Assembly's passage of SB 3722 last month and the signing by Quinn, the loophole will be in effect for this fall's election when all 177 House and Senate districts are at stake and in 2014 - the first gubernatorial election under the limits system.

"'This loophole bill was rushed through the General Assembly in the closing days of the legislative session and without any consideration by the Illinois Campaign Finance Reform Task Force, which was created by the General Assembly to study implementation of the 2009 law and to advise legislators and the Governor on possible revisions,' said Deborah Harrington, a co-chair of CHANGE Illinois! and a member of the task force.

"'No single reform can root out all government corruption,' said George A. Ranney, co-chair of the coalition. 'However, the state's first ever limitation on campaign contributions was a major change in the way Illinois conducts elections, and now Gov. Quinn and a majority of the General Assembly have undermined that much needed reform which their constituents pressured them to create less than three years ago.'"

The Illinois Campaign for Political Reform also released a statement from executive director Brian Gladstein:

"Gov. Quinn's signature on this bill has carved a large loophole into the campaign contribution limits law. He has made it easier for large campaign contributors to buy political favors, and he has moved Illinois back toward the same kind of system that produced two corrupt governors now serving prison sentences.

"His record on reform had a promising beginning with his signature on the 2009 bill creating the state's first comprehensive contribution limits, but he took a wrong turn with his signature on this limits loophole.

"He has opened the door to a return of Blagojevich proportion contributions in the 2014 gubernatorial election."

Lest you think this is reformist hyperbole, objectivity paragon AP reported it this way: "Quinn Signs Law Ditching Caps He Championed."

GateHouse News Service opened its story this way:

"Just two years after signing a bill limiting the amount of money candidates can receive from individuals, unions, corporations and others, Gov. Pat Quinn signed a bill blowing off those caps in elections where third-party groups dump certain amounts of cash into the race."

Followed by:

"The legislation, Senate Bill 3722, goes into effect for the 2012 election and will be effective for a potential 2014 Quinn re-election campaign.

"But a Quinn spokeswoman said the governor wasn't being self-serving by signing the bill.

"'No. The bottom line is this is about ensuring fairness. The rules have changed,' said spokeswoman Annie Thompson."

Just coincidentally, then, the bill was sponsored by House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie (D-Chicago). We're sure she only had fairness in mind.

Quinn, by the way, is on an unannounced trip to Spain. Somehow he managed to sign the bill into law from there on late Friday afternoon of a holiday week in the midst of a killer heat wave.


Comments welcome.


Posted on July 6, 2012

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