Candidates running for the state house from Evanston say they will support legislation to rein in Illinois’ political pay-to-play culture.

Candidates running for the state house from Evanston say they will support legislation to rein in Illinois’ political pay-to-play culture.

Candidates Jeff Smith and Eamon Kelly say they support capping campaign contributions.

The state legislature pursued caps earlier this year. It passed in June a bill that caps contributions from individuals and organizations, though not as low as the federal limits.

The bill has not been signed by the governor and drew fire from reform groups for not matching federal limits, which cap individual contributions at $2,400 and committee, union and business contributions at $5,000.

Supporters retorted that these lower limits would spur an even greater frenzy of campaigning.

Smith says he isn’t going to accept any contributions greater than the federal limits.

Candidate Patrick Kennan-Devlin says he doesn’t expect candidates in this district to receive individual contributions around even $2,300.

Since Julie Hamos first became a state representative in 1999, she received a total of 22 individual contributions greater than $2,400 through six elections, according to state campaign disclosure records.

Kennan-Devlin says the state state should adopt a public financing system whereby candidates must attain a certain level of small individual donations before receiving a lump sum from the state.

Kennan-Devlin’s proposal would be similar to the public financing systems used in Arizona, Maine and Connecticut.

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  1. campaign limits are not necessarily progressive
    I am not impressed when Jeff Smith favors campaign contribution limits.

    I am all for making ending the ‘pay to play’ culture in Illinois politics…but let’s not pretend that campaign limits are going to solve that.

    Who gains by campaign limits? Maybe a candidate who has a large organization ( public employee union members, for example) willing to make small donations and do a lot of the knocking on doors and get out the vote stuff.

    Campaign limits would help a guy like Jeff Smith, who might get help from friends in the Democratic Party establishment, Central Street NIMBY Association, Friends of the Civic Center, Southeast Evanston Association, firefighters union, and other well organized machines that represent the special interests but not the people.

    But what about a true outsider, with no ties to the special interests? How would he (or she )get name recognition, and get his message out, unless he is independently wealthy and exempt from limits on self-contributions?

    Suppose that a wealthy maverick professor with an enquiring mind were willing to use his vast financial resources to finance a courageous outsider, or to finance a whole political reform movement. Under ‘campaign reform’, this would be illegal…and so we would have only machine candidates and wealthy people running for office.

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