Daily dose: Local history, political giving (to federal groups), more trouble for Dan Rutherford, the last honest man in Illinois (??) and candidate filing approaches

Daily dose: Local history, political giving (to federal groups), more trouble for Dan Rutherford, the last honest man in Illinois (??) and candidate filing approaches

Local history

In 1911, downtown Urbana suffered a bad fire last night when the Urbana Drug Co. store at the corner of Race and Main streets was practically destroyed by smoke, fire and water damage. The fire was discovered at 11:45 p.m. in the basement of the building and it is believed to have been caused by defective electrical wiring.

In 1961, Mattis Schesley III, a Democratic candidate for Congress from Champaign, said he was surprised to learn that his “donkey tent” campaign headquarters is within the Champaign city limits. He said he will move his tent, now at 1010 S. Mattis Ave., across the street to the Roy Stout farm where it will be outside the city limits.


Political giving in downstate Illinois

From Sunday's column ...

If there was a local competition for federal political activity — meaning the most campaign contributions — the winner this year would be the 61801 ZIP Code in Urbana.
So far in this election cycle, residents of the 61801 ZIP Code have contributed $77,878 to federal candidates, political action committees and associations, according to the web site opensecrets.org.
The No. 2 local ZIP Code for federal political activity is 61821 (generally the city of Champaign west of Prospect Avenue) with contributions of $70,413, followed by 61822 (a small part of west Champaign but generally suburban and rural areas west and north of the city) with contributions of $66,571.
Farther back were the 61820 ($46,200), 61802 ($23,312), 61824 ($4,075) and 61826 ($294) ZIP Codes.
Overall the five Champaign ZIP Codes making contributions had $187,553 in contributions, the two Urbana ZIP Codes had $101,190.
Other Champaign County communities and their federal totals include Mahomet ($18,612), Rantoul ($3,300), Savoy ($2,500), St, Joseph ($2,000), Homer ($1,220) Ogden ($1,200), Fisher ($800), Seymour ($700), Sidney and Tolono ($250 each).
In Danville, ZIP Code 61832 reported $12,500 in contributions and 61834 had $2,480. Nearby smaller towns and their totals include Mattoon ($11,774), Monticello ($9,850), Paris ($9,700), Charleston ($5,925), Watseka ($2,535), Tuscola ($2,050), Clinton ($1,460) and Paxton ($850).
As you might expect, the vast majority of the political contributions from traditionally Democratic Urbana went to Democrats, or Democratic-leaning organizations. Only $9,700 or about 13 percent of the contributions in the 61801 ZIP Code went to Republicans: U.S. Rep. Tim Johnson of Urbana, and presidential contenders Ron Paul and Mitt Romney. Among the big Democratic recipients in 61801 were the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the Democratic National Committee, 13th Congressional District candidate David Gill, the Obama re-election campaign committee and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
One donor in Urbana stands out — retired University of Illinois mathematics Professor Donald L. Burkholder, who had donated $36,341 to about 20 different candidates or organizations during the first nine months of 2011.
“I like to give money to people who I think will do great things,” Burkholder said.
“I certainly am interested in politics and I think I have been since I was a little tyke” growing up in Nebraska, said Burkholder, who added that he preferred to “stay in the background.”
Among the recipients of his contributions are Democratic U.S. Sens. Tom Harkin of Iowa, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray of Washington; Senate candidate Shelley Berkley of Nevada; independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont; congressional candidates Christie Vilsack of Iowa, Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, Janice Hahn of California, Ann Kirkpatrick of Arizona and Lois Frankel of Florida; and Obama.
Like the other Urbana ZIP Code, most of the donations in 61802 — about 88 percent — went to Democrats or Democratic groups. The biggest recipient in 61802 was the Obama reelection committee.
But it was an entirely different story in the Champaign ZIP Codes, where about 70 percent of the federal campaign contributions went to Republican candidates or groups. In 61821, for example, GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney was the top recipient with $23,500, followed by Johnson with $15,550. The Obama campaign was third at $6.049. In 61820, Johnson was the top recipient at $15,500 followed by Romney at $10,750 and Obama at $7,237. In 61822 Johnson was tops with $17,249 followed by Obama at $7,825.
Compared with other downstate communities, Champaign-Urbana is second only to Peoria in terms of money donated this year to federal campaign committees.

More charges against Treasurer Rutherford

From The Daily Herald ...

In mid-September, Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford's office said that sending a glossy, taxpayer-funded summary of “successes” to a select number of Illinois residents — who also were major campaign donors — was “merely a coincidence.”

But a Daily Herald investigation has connected 181 more brochure recipients to Rutherford donations, bringing the total to 723 donors among the 850 recipients of the mailing.

While 566 people who received the mailer individually contributed a total of $1.6 million to the Pontiac Republican's war chest over the last two decades, another 181 people who got the brochure were high-ranking officers in companies that contributed $891,825 to his campaigns.

A Daily Herald check of campaign forms shows, in the weeks following the mailing, Rutherford collected $15,966 in donations from mailer recipients in both groups.

Rutherford, at a “Cash Dash” event in Carpentersville on Thursday, said he stands by earlier statements that the mailer was sent to business people throughout the state.

“If it were a donor list,” he said, the number of mailer recipients “wouldn't be that small. Our donor list is 26,000.”

Yet, at the very least, watchdogs say, the situation blurs lines between state work and campaigning, which can't be done with taxpayers' dollars.

“One of the details of the (corruption) trial of former Gov. George Ryan was having state employees work on the campaign while billing the state for the work,” Illinois Campaign for Political Reform Associate Director David Morrison said. “What Rutherford did isn't comparable to Ryan. It's just the idea that public work and campaign work are separate. You don't cross that line and combine the two.”

The multi-page full-color booklet titled “No More Debt” was mailed June 1.

“Paid for by the state of Illinois,” it reads on the back, and “850 copies.”

According to the treasurer's office, the mailing cost 21.4 cents to print per piece. Envelopes and postage cost another $1.48 per piece.

“It wasn't costing the state a whole lot of money, but it is the principle of the thing,” Morrison said. “It's not something that's available to all candidates.”



Aaron Jaffee, portrayed as guardian of Illinois' integrity

From Chicago News Cooperative ...

Horatio was not at the bridge but at a Starbucks on the Evanston-Skokie border.

Our armorless Horatio is Aaron Jaffe, 81, the chairman of the Illinois Gaming Board. He is seen by advocates of gambling expansion as a cantankerous impediment blocking their ravenous army during our revenue-desperate days.

We could have met at Midway or O’Hare and envisioned a time when travelers from Pittsburgh or Rome eschew iPads, Excel spreadsheets or calls home during their layovers and instead play the slots. Airport slots have been included in proposed legislation in Springfield.

We could have met in downtown Chicago or four other spots where new casinos are proposed. We might have convened, too, at our dying, clout-heavy racetracks, which could also get slots, in legislation that Gov. Pat Quinn has threatened to veto.

Or we could have wandered into almost any bar and considered the prospect of downing six or seven Budweisers, then losing our next mortgage payment on video poker.

As many as 75,000 machines could have been installed by now in taverns, clubs, restaurants and truck stops except for both litigation and the methodical (or snail-like, say critics) way the gaming commission seeks safeguards before approving any terminal allowed in legislation that was passed in 2009.

But I decided on this Starbucks since it’s where a cozy group of chums, including Jaffe, regularly show. The chairman, a long-retired state judge, frustrates both political parties, including the likes of Mayor Rahm Emanuel and other politicians who may hold their noses while pressing feverishly for gambling.

“They try to convince everybody that they are doing this for the good of humanity and it’s some panacea for all our problems,” Jaffe said.



And finally ...


Candidate filing among Democrats and Republicans for the March 20 primary election in Illinois begins next Monday morning, Nov. 28, and continues throught the following Monday, Dec. 5 -- unless the federal courts, currently reviewing Illinois' redistricting process -- extend the date.





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