SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Illinois House Republicans say they’ve introduced “true” campaign finance reform, but its passage will require approval from the two men the bill targets.
The bill would stretch the reach of this year’s reform package into general elections, preventing party leaders from contributing unlimited amounts to their members running for reelection.
The law signed by Gov. Pat Quinn last year does not go into effect until 2011.
House minority leader Tom Cross of Oswego and other Republicans said consolidating money and power is unfair and dinged Democratic leaders Mike Madigan and John Cullerton of Chicago for scrapping the proposal last year.
“I think everybody in this room and most everybody involved in state government knows why this part was not included in the original bill. The Speaker and the President didn’t like it,” Cross said.
Legislative leaders have routinely flooded competitive elections with campaign donations from their own political coffers.
The legislation would limit leaders to $200,000 for statewide candidates, $125,000 for senate and $75,000 for House.
Reform group CHANGE Illinois issued a press release indicating their support for the added limits. Reformers stood with Republicans on the issue last year too until sacrificing to pass any limits at all.
“Adding this missing ingredient to the limits law will require a bi-partisan alliance of determined legislators, and we urge legislators from both parties in both chambers of the General Assembly to work together to enact expanded limits this year,” the statement said.
The Republicans at today’s press conference seemed to advocate more for a hearing on the bill than its passage at times. Cross said the bill should pass easily if lawmakers are allowed to vote independently without influence from Madigan and Cullerton.
“We all know what the process is supposed to be,” Rep. Dan Brady of Bloomington said. “Sometimes that process doesn’t occur.”
Lawmakers don’t return to Springfield until after the primary election on Feb. 2.
Cross said he expects Quinn to support the provision based on his State of the State address. Quinn said last year’s reform package wasn’t a “full loaf” of bread. A spokeswoman for Quinn’s office said they have no comment on the legislation.
Madigan’s spokesman Steve Brown said weakening party caucuses would allow special interest groups to have more influence on candidates.
“I don’t think Tom Cross has one peep to say about limits when Republicans were in charge,” Brown said.