Legislative Leaders and Political Parties Spent $15.4 million Influencing the Outcome of 19 Legislative Elections

Mar 11, 2011, 10:33 ET from Illinois Campaign for Political Reform

Candidates Depend on Leadership to Pay for Their Campaigns

CHICAGO, March 11, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Money provided by legislative leader PACs and political parties accounted for 63 percent of the spending in the big dollar campaigns for 19 legislative seats in 2010.

Spending by the legislative leaders and parties totaled $15.4 million, the bulk of the total of nearly $24.4 million spent by the 38 candidates vying for 12 House seats and seven Senate seats, according to an analysis of records examined by the Sunshine Project and the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform (ICPR).

"Legislators living in fear of a tight election contest have come to depend on legislative leaders to prop up their campaigns," said Cynthia Canary, Director of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform (ICPR).  "That dependence can become a real addiction, and the side effects warp representative government."

"Several legislators are in Springfield today only because legislative leaders and parties came up with a third or more of the money they needed to wage winning campaigns against well-funded rivals," said Kent Redfield, Director of the Sunshine Project and a professor emeritus of political science at the University of Illinois at Springfield.  "Several of them allowed their legislative leaders and parties to provide an astounding 70 to 80 percent of their total spending.  That high degree of dependence on a single donor can make constituents question whether their representatives are responsive to their interests."

The highest total spending contest in the 2010 general election was the more than $2 million spent by the two candidates running for the 49th Senate District, just south of Springfield.  Deanna Demuzio, the incumbent Democrat, spent $1.8 million, including $1.2 million in leader/party money (66 percent), but she lost to Republican Sam McCann, who spent nearly $900,000, including $634,000 in leader/party money (71 percent of his spending).

The 2010 election was the last Illinois election waged under a campaign finance system that allows unlimited contributions from all sources.   Beginning in 2011, contributions more all sources, including legislative leaders and political parties, are limited in primary elections.  The new law applies limits to all funding sources except legislative leaders and parties in the general election.

(Chart of contributions for Senate and House targeted races are available at http://ilcampaign.org/targeted-legislative-races-2010)

Contact:  David Morrison


SOURCE Illinois Campaign for Political Reform