Patrick Keenan-Devlin has pulled into the fundraising lead in the 18th District state house contest, thanks to unusually large contributions from a major public employees union.

Patrick Keenan-Devlin has pulled into the fundraising lead in the 18th District state house contest, thanks to unusually large contributions from a major public employees union.

In campaign finance reports due Wednesday, the Keenan-Devlin campaign reported a $45,000 donation from the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees as well as nearly $22,000 in in-kind contributions of campaign staff help from the union.

“AFSCME is essentially running his campaign,” said one of the other contenders in the race, Jeff Smith.

Another competitor, Eamon Kelly, called on Keenan-Devlin to return the AFSCME donation. He noted that under a new statute a union will be limited to $10,000 in direct contributions to a state house candidate starting in 2011. But the statute, which Both Keenan-Devlin and Kelly say they favor, sets a $50,000 contribution limit for political action committees — an entity which a union could form.

Keenan-Devlin says he has no plans to return the contribution and said all the other candidates in the race except Edmund Moran had sought AFSCME’s endorsement.

He said his positions on the issues have been clear from the start of the race and that he didn’t change them to win AFSCME’s support.

While he and the union share opposition to switching public employees to a defined contribution pension plan, Keenan-Devlin said the problem with pensions is not the nature of the plans, but the way the legislature has failed to live up to its obligation to properly fund them.

Some other candidates in the Democratic primary besides Keenan-Devlin have received substantial support from unions and other special interest groups.

Robyn Gabel reported donations of $5,000 from the Service Employees International Union, $5,000 from the Illinois Hospital Association and its leadership, $2,000 from the Associated Beer Distributors of Illinois, $2,000 from the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association, $1,500 from the Chicago Federation of Labor, $1,000 from the State Chamber of Commerce and $500 from the Cook County College Teachers Union.

She also received several donations from the campaign committees of other politicians, including $6,000 from State. Rep. Lou Lang of Skokie, $5,000 from State House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie and $250 from U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky.

Kelly reported donations of $10,000 from the North Suburban Teachers Union, $2,500 from the Chicago Teachers Union, $1,000 from the Cook County College Teachers Union and $600 from Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin.

Smith reported contributions of $2,500 from Illinois Association of Realtors and $250 from the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists.

He also received donations from several Evanston politicians, including $2,353 from his former law partner and former 7th Ward alderman Steve Engelman, $600 from Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl, $400 from 6th Ward Alderman Mark Tendam, $250 from 2nd Ward Alderman Lionel Jean-Baptiste and $125 from 7th Ward Alderman Jane Grover.

His biggest contributors were his parents, who gave donations totalling $4,800 and loaned the campaign $17,000.

Former 6th Ward alderman Edmund Moran has been by far the least active on the fundraising front in the 18th District race. He’s reported just 17 itemized contributions so far with about $2,200 identifiable as being from fellow attorneys and $1,000 from an executive of a health care firm.

This story was updated at 2:15 p.m., 3:00 p.m., 3:45 p.m. and 4:05 p.m. with additional information.

Related development

The U.S. Supreme Court today overturned some limits on corporate and union spending in policical campaigns in federal elections. The ruling may also impact laws at the state level, including in Illinois. For details:

Justices overturn key campaign limits (New York Times)

Supreme Court overturns law restricting corporate money on political campaigns (Crain’s Chicago Business)

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. Wow
    Wow, this really makes me glad to live in a country where we decide our elections in favor of whichever candidate receives the most votes- instead of deciding them in favor of whichever candidate gets the most money from AFSCME.

    1. Wow, I am glad that your
      WOW, I am glad that your campaign put you up to commenting, that’s very proactive. As a member of the community who hasn’t chosen my candidate yet, I take this to mean that AFSCME endorsed him because hes the BEST candidate. AFSCME is doing nothing more than looking out for workers rights, don’t get upset because PKD is, in their eyes, the best candidate for the job.

      1. The growing public outrage is
        The growing public outrage is not something that Mister Devlin will be able to blame on the other candidates, at the very least he should have voluntarily come forward about this earlier.

  2. Campaign donations
    Don’t forget that other popular lawmakers, including Obama, Durbin, Schakowsky and Hamos, received money and endorsements from AFSCME. The union represents workers and Patrick Keenan-Devlin is very supportive of workers. Why are Kelly and Smith acting like Keenan-Devlin took money from Dow Chemical?

    AFSCME supports liberal candidates with liberal values — like Keenan-Devlin. Besides, Kelly has taken lots of money from the teacher’s unions and no one is asking him to give it back.

    1. Riiiiighhtt…. Patrick is
      Riiiiighhtt…. Patrick is exactly like Obama. Sure…

      The problem isn’t that he got their money, the problem is that he blew all his promises about reforming campaigns and contribution limits to cozy up to a single special interest.

  3. Just to add my own opinion to
    Just to add my own opinion to counter the Patrick campaign hacks posting here.

    Its one thing to get money from AFSCME or other sources in small chunks like everyone else did. Its another thing to shed all integrity and honesty you have and accept a $66,000 check from one special interest (more than 50% of all the money he raised!) after claiming you are for campaign reform.

    This kid has been in the political game for 6 months, and he has already sold his soul on the most important issue in Illinois right now, because his eyes opened big at the prospect of a lot of money.

    Give it back, Patrick. Prove you have some integrity.

  4. The “New Way” or The “Old Way”?
    To me, the point is not that the AFSCME believes PKD is the best candidate; they did that with their endorsement. The point is that the candidate who had been telling us Illinois needs a “NEW WAY” for six months certainly looks like he runs his campaign in the “OLD WAY” when he lobbys on behalf of a special interest then takes a boatload of money from them. Perhaps this is just an honest oversight in a hectic campaign. Now that he knows, I’m sure PKD the reformer will do the right thing and give contributions over the voluntary limits back.

  5. This is most disturbing
    The biggest single disconnect between voters and elected leaders is the epidemic lack of authenticity. PKD’s core theme has been his advocacy of a change in the way Springfield does business.

    Instead of acknowledging a mistake and correcting it, he defends the indefensible. He can now join that long list. This is particularly discouraging because he showed so much promise.

    Until now, the uniform strength and integrity of the five candidate lineup represented the best of us and reflected so well on Evanston.

    I hope PKD reconsiders and accepts the challenge from the other candidates. It is not too late!

  6. A “New” Way?
    Is no one but me bothered by this? Patrick Keenan-Devlin is a candidate whose campaign slogan is “A New Way” and yet his actions reflect politics as usual. Isn’t this recent development just another reflection of the American way – run on a platform that promises the electorate one thing, but then behave in ways that benefit the politicians?

    There is nothing wrong with organizational endorsements. As a union member, I support the rights of unions to make those endorsements and I look for those endorsements, as well as those from other organizations that represent my “special interests,” when I am deciding on whom to vote. I do not even have a problem with those “special interest” organizations donating to political campaigns. But when one “special interest” organization’s donations are so out-of-line with those of other donations to the candidates in a primary I am troubled. And I am especially troubled when the candidate who takes those large contributions then justifies his acceptance by saying that the support from ASCME “is in line with my values. I’ve stood up for working families my whole professional career. I’ll continue to do that.” How is this any different than a candidate from the opposing political party taking money from big corporations and then saying that this financial support is okay because it is in keeping with his/her pro-business values?

    Patrick Keenan-Devlin needs to be authentic with the voters. It is no longer enough to say “trust me to be a reformer once I’m elected.” If his campaign is really about “a new way,” and if he is committed to campaign finance reform, then he should return the bulk of that donation.

  7. Disappointed
    A disconnect develops between politicians and voters when we learn they are inauthentic. It appears PKD is about to join that long list of inauthentic politicians. His themes and positions are so very different from the picture that is now emerging. This is particularly disappointing because he showed so much promise.

    This State Rep race has been uplifting. Until now it appeared any one of the five could win and we could be proud to have him or her as our representative.

    It is not too late for PKD, but his opportunity to rediscover his cause is slipping away. He should accept the challenge from his opponets and voluntarily adhere to the new contribution limits that during the debates he characterized as too high.

  8. Jan Schakowsky recommendations
    Has it occured to the candidates that a recommendation frm Jan Schakowsky is the kiss-of-death to a lot of people ?

    1. Any candidate would have welcomed Jan’s endorsement
      As a highly partisan supporter of my son’s candidacy, I take issue with the characterization of our Congresswoman’s endorsement of another candidate as the kiss of death. On the contrary any of the candidates would have welcomed her endorsement.

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