Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Illinois' Officeholders Mix Money and Politics

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Illinois' Officeholders Mix Money and Politics

Article excerpt

Illinois' top fiscal officer took more than $23,000 in political contributions from the banking industry this year, a practice her predecessor had rejected because of the appearance of conflict of interest.

Meanwhile, the automotive industry sent carloads of cash to the state's regulator of motor vehicles. And Illinois' doctors, still flush with a legislative victory that could save them millions of dollars in court, provided the largest single contribution of the year to the man who signed it into law.

New campaign records show Illinois' top Republican leaders aren't hurting for cash, despite the hard-fought campaign in November. Even now, eight months later, the contributions still are coming at a healthy pace.

Furthermore - talk of a new kind of government aside - the leaders aren't hesitating to harvest the same sources that have raised concerns in the past about Illinois' lax campaign contribution laws.

The records, filed with the State Board of Elections, show state Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka received $102,568 in new donations between Jan. 1 and June 30, according to the records. Close to a quarter of that money - just under $24,000 - came from Illinois banks and financial institutions.

Former Treasurer Patrick Quinn made it an in-house rule not to accept contributions from banks, because the treasurer's office works so closely with them. The theory was that accepting money from the industry could lead to charges of favoritism when it came to deciding which institutions the office would do business with.

That is a theory the Topinka administration rejects, according to Deputy Treasurer Marty Kovarik.

"We have no problem with that," Kovarik said of the banking contributions. "We accept money from anyone who believes in good government, and that's what they get."

Kovarik also said that although Quinn did not accept money directly from banks, he did accept money from banking officials, a fuzzy distinction that became a campaign issue last year when Quinn tried to unseat Illinois Secretary of State George Ryan. …

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