For Immediate Release
Thursday, February 10, 2005
Natalia Kennedy, 212 998–6736
Cynthia Canary, 312 335–1767
Kent Redfield, 217 206–6572
Illinois Election Authorities Asked to Investigate at Least $830,000 in Campaign Contributions in 2004 Iillinois Supreme Court Contest
Complaints were filed Thursday with the Illinois State Board of Elections against two organizations on opposite sides of the nations most expensive contest for a state supreme court seat.
The complaints allege both organizations violated state requirements for public disclosure of campaign contributions on behalf of candidates in the 2004 election for the 5th District Illinois Supreme Court seat. The original sources of at least $830,000 in campaign contributions have been hidden from the public. The complaints were filed against the Illinois Coalition for Jobs, Growth and Prosperity (Coalition) and the Justice For All Foundation (JFA).
The complaints were filed with the Illinois State Board of Elections by Cynthia Canary, director of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform (ICPR), and Kent Redfield, director of the Sunshine Project.
The business-backed Coalition and the labor-backed JFA collected and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars but did not file statements of organization or any of the required public reports identifying the sources of those funds and how those funds were spent, according to the complaints.
The full text of both complaints and supporting exhibits are available on-line at www.ilcampaign.org.
Although these PACs cloak themselves as charitable non-profits, they look like PACs, talk like PACs and spend money like PACs, Canary said. There should be no mistake. They are PACs. The Illinois State Board of Elections should insist that they follow all of the disclosure laws required of PACs.
There is a great deal more at stake here than simply knowing the real sources of money that went into this Supreme Court election, Redfield said. If the Illinois State Board of Elections allows this behavior to go unpunished, it will open a gigantic loophole in our disclosure laws, and this same kind of hidden financing scheme will surface repeatedly in future legislative and statewide elections.
The complaints contain the following allegations about the Illinois Coalition for Jobs, Growth and Prosperity:
The Coalition publicly endorsed and opposed candidates for public office, including state legislative candidates, and issued a press release listing the candidates the Coalition supported through mailings, phone calls and other means and listing the candidates it opposed.
The Coalition also paid $445,000 to an organization called the Illinois Coalition for Jobs, Growth and Prosperity PAC and was the sole source of funds contributed to the Coalition PAC.
According to reports filed by the Coalition PAC with the Illinois State Board of Elections, the Coalition PAC made an $8,000 contribution directly to the campaign fund of Lloyd Karmeier, the Republican candidate who won the 2004 election for the Supreme Court.
The Coalition PAC contributed $150,000 to JUSTPAC, the political action committee of Coalition member Illinois Civil Justice League. JUSTPAC made monetary and in-kind contributions of more than $1.19 million to Karmeiers campaign.
The Coalition PAC also reported election-related expenditures of more than $284,000 but failed to indicate on its required expenditure reports which political candidate or candidates benefited.
Although the Coalition meets the state law definition of a state political committee, it failed to file public reports of its organization as a state political committee and did not file any of the required reports of campaign contributions and expenditures.The Coalitions founding members include the Illinois Business Roundtable, Illinois State Chamber of Commerce, Illinois Manufacturers Association, Illinois Civil Justice League and the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce. The Coalition was formed about two months before the 2004 primary election.
The complaints contain the following allegations about the Justice For All Foundation:
The Justice For All Foundation (JFA Foundation) incorporated as a not-for-profit corporation less than five months before the 2004 general election, and the organizations articles of incorporation state it will be engaged in grassroots lobbying and political activities for the protection of the Courts of Madison County, Illinois.
Prior to the 2004 election, the JFA Foundation received at least $385,000 in contributions, and transferred that sum to the Justice For All Foundation PAC (JFA PAC), which made more than $1.2 million in in-kind contributions to the campaign committee of Gordon Maag, the Democrat who lost the 2004 Supreme Court election.
Although the JFA PAC meets the state law definition of a state political committee, it failed to file public reports of its organization as a state political committee and any reports of campaign contributions and expenditures.
According to documents filed with the Illinois State Board of Elections, the officers of JFA PAC are Mike Flutz of Granite City and George Machino, Jr. of East Alton. Fultz is president of United Auto Workers Local #3206. Machino is president of the Greater Madison County Federation of Labor. Documents on file with the Secretary of State list Machino as the agent for the JFA Foundation.
About the filing
Canary has been director of ICPR since it was founded in 1997 by the late U.S. Senator Paul Simon. ICPR is a non-profit, non-partisan public interest group that conducts research and advocates reforms to promote public participation in government, address the role of money in politics and encourage integrity, accountability, and transparency in government.
Redfield, a political science professor at the University of Illinois at Springfield, is one of the state’s leading authorities on campaign finance trends and has written two books about election financing in Illinois. The goal of the non-profit, non-partisan Sunshine Project is to increase public awareness and understanding of the role of money in Illinois politics. Redfield created the Sunshine Database, which has standardized and coded Illinois campaign contribution data to make searches easier and more complete. The Sunshine Database is available at www.ilcampaign.org.
The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, founded in 1995, unites thinkers and advocates in pursuit of a vision of inclusive and effective democracy.