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Keenan-Devlin leads in fundraising

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)

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