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Springfield Rolls Back Campaign Donation Caps When Super PACs Are Involved

By Chuck Sudo in News on May 30, 2012 10:10PM

Photo Credit: Christopher Methven

From the "Do as I say not as I do" file: The Illinois House voted to roll back campaign contribution limits in the state's campaign finance law so that statewide political and legislative campaigns can raise money whenever a Super PAC is involved in the campaign.

House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie sponsored the legislation, which would allow candidates to ignore the limits whenever an independent committee or individual contributes $250,000 or more to a statewide campaign, and $100,000 or more to legislative campaigns. The 2009 law—passed in the wake of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich's arrest for trying to sell the Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama's election as President—capped donations at $5,000 for individuals, $10,000 from business or labor groups and $50,000 from political action committees.

Currie said of the vote:

“I do not believe any candidate should be defenseless against the super PAC that comes along and wants to destroy him or her in a political campaign. “I don’t want to turn our democracy over to the big money.”

House Republicans and campaign finance reform groups opposed the move. Springfield GOP legislators said it would "blow a big gaping hole" in the law. Not that the law was airtight to begin with. A federal judge, citing the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision, ruled in March in that parts of the law violated constitutionally guaranteed free-speech provisions. Last year's mayoral campaign also showed corporations could skirt the limits by simply writing maximum dollar amount checks from separately owned and incorporated businesses.