Illinois Political Campaigns Know No Limits
Hodson, Jeff, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Byline: Jeff Hodson Daily Herald Staff Writer
The money spent on state political campaigns continues to skyrocket, with no limits on contributions and no restrictions on how they are spent.
But the system won't be reformed until Illinois lawmakers hear a "hue and cry" from voters, according to the investigators of a report on campaign contributions in Illinois.
Preliminary results of a two-year study, called the Illinois Campaign Finance Project, were presented this week at a town hall meeting at York Township Center in Lombard.
The 40 or so guests who attended learned that Illinois has few restrictions when it comes to raising or spending political funds.
"This is the most wide-open state in the country," said Kent Redfield, a professor of political studies at the University of Illinois at Springfield and the report's principal investigator.
Many other states place limits on the amounts individuals or corporations can give.
In 1994, Redfield said, $63 million was spent on statewide races in Illinois and campaigns for state office. The money spent on general election legislative races was $18.5 million, nearly double the $9.5 million spent in 1990. One race for state senate gobbled up $1.34 million.
An exception to the trend was DuPage County, where campaign spending in general elections for the state House of Representatives actually decreased from 1992 to 1994, from $344,000 to $201,000.
Redfield made several points:
- Money in a political fund can be spent on anything, including parking tickets, country club dues and funerals.
- Money can be funneled into local races by legislative leaders, meaning money from outside the district can sway a race. …