Tom Kacich: Johnson plans to help fund some candidates

Tom Kacich: Johnson plans to help fund some candidates

U.S. Rep. Tim Johnson is no longer a candidate, but he's not out of politics. The Urbana Republican, who will retire from political life in early January, still has a campaign fund with more than $270,000, and he's planning to spend some of that to support candidates.

Johnson's latest filing with the Federal Election Commission shows that he has given $1,000 to both John Farney, the Republican candidate for Champaign County auditor, and Katie Blakeman, the GOP candidate for county circuit clerk; $500 to both Caleb Briscoe, a candidate for Greene County state's attorney, and Shirley Thornton, a contender for Greene County circuit court clerk; and $250 to Republican central committees in Greene, Jersey and Macoupin counties.

He's also given $1,000 to the re-election campaign of U.S. Rep. Bobby Schilling, R-Moline. He has not, however, contributed to Rodney Davis, the Republican candidate in the 13th Congressional District.

"I do think we have a couple more who we'll be giving to," said Johnson.

Mark Shelden, Johnson's chief of staff, said "we're looking at a couple more races where some money might be helpful this fall. We haven't settled on what we're going to do yet."

As for the possibility that Davis could be a beneficiary, Shelden said, "I wouldn't want to comment on who is going to get money. The determination about where we give money, or the races that Tim cares about, the people he knows and supports, or where it's going to be a close race and where some funding might make a difference, there are a lot of factors that go into the decision.

"But the absence of a contribution, no one should take that as meaning anything."

Johnson also has refunded more than $135,000 in campaign contributions since announcing in April — after the March 20 primary election — that he would not be a candidate in the general election. In the last three months, he's refunded $3,730 in individual contributions and $20,500 in political action committee contributions.

Among the groups getting their money back from the Johnson campaign were the Automotive Free International Trade PAC; the campaign fund of Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich.; the National Association of Home Builders PAC; the fund of Rep. Peter Roskam, R-Ill.; the National Corn Growers; and the Amalgamated Transit Union.

Shelden said he believes the Johnson campaign has made all the campaign refunds requested.

"Some people gave for the primary (election) and some gave for the general," he said. "People who gave for the general election I think were refunded. And a few people made requests and we gave back to them as well. Generally, I think that's where we're at.

"So I think we'll just keep looking for opportunities to support people, not only in this election but down the road."

Frerichs' future. State Sen. Mike Frerichs, D-Champaign, is engaged in a battle for reelection this fall but that doesn't keep people from forecasting his future beyond the Statehouse. The guessing may have been ratcheted up after a speech at Sunday's Champaign County Democratic Party fall dinner.

After the speech Frerichs insisted he had no interest in a federal office. But his speech focused not on Springfield but on national issues.

He defended public employees against what he said were the "attacks" by Govs. Scott Walker in Wisconsin and Mitch Daniels in Indiana, and the idea that public sector salaries and pensions had created financial problems for state and national governments.

"They decided not to pay any attention to the deregulation of the financial services industry, or the two wars that were run up without enough money to pay for them but with tax cuts at the same time. They say that our firefighters and police officers are just making too much money," Frerichs said. "As Joe Biden said, that's a bunch of malarkey."

He said Democrats believe not in handouts but hands up and talked of his education at Yale, a place he said his parents told him they couldn't afford.

"They couldn't afford it, but because of the federal government, they offered federally guaranteed student loans that allowed me to go and afford my college," he said. "I think when we offer that to young people without a crippling burden, we improve our communities. There's an old Celtic saying that I've recently discovered that 'we have all warmed ourselves from fires that we did not build, we've all drunk from wells we did not dig.' We as Democrats know that people came before us and fought to give us the opportunities that we have as Americans, and we have a responsibility to keep those fires lit for future generations."

He ended saying that "Democrats believe that a rising tide lifts all boats. Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are only interested in lifting the yachts."

Andrzejewski to speak to Ford County Tea Party. Adam Andrzejewski, chairman of the For the Good of Illinois political action committee, will speak at the Oct. 25 meeting of the Ford County Tea Party at the Moyer Library, 618 S. Sangamon Ave., Gibson City.

The meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. Andrzejewski will speak on the "Save Illinois Taxpayers" pledge.

Candidates are being asked to sign the pledge in which they promise to freeze property taxes for three years, enact "adversarial audits" that would detail wasteful spending, and repeal the 67 percent income tax increase approved by state lawmakers in January 2011.

Tom Kacich is a News-Gazette editor and columnist. His column appears on Wednesdays and Sundays. He can be reached at 351-5221 or at

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DEB wrote on October 17, 2012 at 9:10 am

Interesting that Frerichs apparently didn't bother defending public employees in Illinois against government attacks. Illinois schools are finding it harder to hire teachers, especially good teachers; thanks to the bipartisan attack on their pensions, pay, and benfits fewer and fewer teachers will work here. And the University system is being destroyed by the same bipartisan effort to make employees pay for the legislators theft of their pension money and healthcare funds, not to mention not paying even what they promise to the Universities across the state. Universities are bleeding professors and Illinois students cannot afford the University all because of state cuts.

But, since it can't be blamed solely on Republicans like in Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, etc., I I guess his home state is of little interest to Frerichs.

asparagus wrote on October 17, 2012 at 12:10 pm

It is a travesty that the state of Illinois is unable to account for every penny spent. As I understand it, we have no offcial, comprehensive auditing procedure. Even still, it should be possible for a non-partisan group to go over the history of revenues and expenditures that are recorded and render some kind of explanation for why there is such a shortfall.  I'm really not interested in blaming anyone. I just want to know how did we get here and where are we headed if nothing changes. Then we can talk about solutions.

We cannot tax our way out of this mess without destroying the economy, and we cannot cut our way out of this mess in the short term without destroying the safety nets.  We need to understand why we are where we are and revamp the system so that this does not keep happening!  We need money in the bank for bad times, we need to eliminate graft, we need to fund the deserving, and we need to live within our means.  There has to be a balance!


Sid Saltfork wrote on October 17, 2012 at 1:10 pm

asparagus is right.  One of the things that needs reform is pork barrel spending for campaign donations, and votes.  The legislature passed a $31 Billion pork barrel bill just a few years ago for things like baseball field lights, dolphin pool liner, ramps for religious buildings, roofs for churchs, etc.  Add to that $31 Billion the tax breaks for Sears, the Chicago board of trade, and a start up fish factory along with numerous other tax breaks to corporate enterprises.  Throw in the existing tax breaks like "ink and paper" used by the private media.  Add the grants to municipalities for swimming pool water features, indoor volleyball courts, hiking trails, and other assorted whims versus necessities.  Illinois has a spending problem for campaign donations, and votes.  There is no prioritized list regarding necessities.  

Before you vote; look at the State of Illinois Legislature website to see where the "campaign donations" come from.  Check out Ameren's donations to the candidates for an example.  Check out the insurance, attornies, and medical industry donations.  Look at who bought your politician before you vote for them.

Sid Saltfork wrote on October 17, 2012 at 2:10 pm

DEB;  As a retired state employee, I watch the votes by the legislators when public employees are involved.  Mike Frerichs has voted in the interests of the state, and university employees along with the teachers.  Check out his voting history, and the issues he voted on.  I recently attended an event where the candidates were addressing questions from retired public employees.  Mike answered questions directly.  His voting history is known.  His opponent was not there.  His opponent's statements regarding public employees is known also.  I do not know if you are a public employee, or not; but your statements regarding Mike Frerichs are way off of the mark.

One of the other legislators running for election (Chad Hayes) justified his voting for retired state employees to pay more for their health care by saying: "I wanted you to have skin in the game."  Well, I did get skinned by Chad Hayes.

bluegrass wrote on October 19, 2012 at 1:10 pm

Hmmmm..  What do you mean when yous ay that Mike Frerichs has voted " in the interests of the state, and university employees along with teachers?"  Under the leadership of the democrat party, they've managed to rack up an unfunded liability just in the pension system of around $83 billion.  So I wonder, what specific votes has Mike Frerichs cast, or what legislation has he recommended that would address the issue of this massive unfunded liability?  Mike Frerichs has never been a legislator who has wanted, or had the ability to fix any problems.  His only impact on our local community has been to go to ribbon cutting ceremonies, shake hands, and talk about his time rowing boats at Yale.  He's nothing more than a democrat vote in a suit, albeit a tall suit.   

Think of it this way, say you have a morbidly obese relative living with you, who is so big he can't leave the house.  You bring him 15 chickens every day to eat, and you promise you'll always bring him those 15 chickens, and you tell him you love him.  Soon, you can't afford the chickens anymore, so you beg, borrow and steal to get the chickens you promised, and when you deliver those chickens, you tell him you love him.  Many different people are telling you that you can't afford to give him those chickens, and soon no one will let you borrow money to pay for chickens.  So one day a dietician comes to the house, and recommends a diet for your relative, to save his life.  Immediately you scream that this person must hate your relative, and you declare your undying love for your relative, and your morbidy obese relative also throws a fit because he can't have his 15 chickens. 

Point of the story?  I'm not sure, but I think it's this.  Mike Frerichs is out of chicken.  In fact, Mike Frerichs never had any chicken at all, he was only in charge of plucking the chickens.  So now, he's planning on moving up a notch to some steak.  I got news for you kids, the kitchen is closed.


Sid Saltfork wrote on October 19, 2012 at 5:10 pm

Just got around to reading the newspaper?  Again with you; it is Democrats, and Republicans.  You cannot get past that.  Stuck in a two dimensional political world.  Even Chapin Rose has voted in the interests of state, and university employees both current, and retired.  You know Chapin Rose the Republican local legislator? 

You having a bad day, Bluegrass?  Your comments were not characteristic of your previous ones. 

americanproud wrote on October 17, 2012 at 12:10 pm

"But the absence of a contribution, no one should take that as meaning anything."

What?  It most definitely means something.  It means that Johnson is blatantly NOT supporting Rodney Davis.  I lost a lot of respect for Johnson when he pulled out of the race after he had already won the primary. After this current stunt of not supporting Davis, I've lost what little respect remains.

Sid Saltfork wrote on October 17, 2012 at 2:10 pm

Davis?  Was he the guy that beat the ex-Miss America in the primary?

rsp wrote on October 17, 2012 at 3:10 pm

When you don't respect your elders don't come to them for a handout. Irregardless of how Johnson dropped out of the race he put in a lot of years in service to this area. I will lay odds that he feels like the disrespect to him is disrespect to his constituents, many of whom he knows personally.

americanproud wrote on October 17, 2012 at 4:10 pm

RSP, do you mean that Rodney Davis disrespected Tim Johnson?  And for that reason, Tim isn't supporting Rodney?

rsp wrote on October 17, 2012 at 4:10 pm

I think Johnson treated this district a certain way, and he sees all the mud slinging as divisive. If you worked your life to build relationships with people, how would you feel about telling those same people that you have confidence someone whose campaign is divisive, instead of showing how they can reach across to the other side? It's not necessarally about Johnson, but the things he's tried to build. In 2005 he founded the Center Aisle Caucus to build relationships between the two sides. The constant mudslinging and distorting of the facts help no one. 

carolthilmony wrote on October 17, 2012 at 4:10 pm

The more I think about Tim’s failure to endorse Davis, the angrier I get. Several times he ran against and campaigned against Gill with all the benefits an incumbent has. Oh, and I haven't forgotten that term limit he promised to honor. But now in a district designed to trend Democratic, he can’t help out a fellow Republican? I know Tim treasures his somewhat maverick label but he could play nice.

alabaster jones 71 wrote on October 20, 2012 at 11:10 pm
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That sort of attitude is a major reason why the state of politics in this country is so poor these days.  Politicians are expected to do whatever is best for their party, regardless of their principles.

johnny wrote on October 17, 2012 at 5:10 pm

Why don't Johnson and Shelden just endorse Gill and get it over with?  That way they can go ahead and campaign for their boy Clarke.  He needs a two-year head start.

alabaster jones 71 wrote on October 20, 2012 at 11:10 pm
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Given the lack of Democratic party support for Gill's campaign in relation to how competitive this race is, I strongly suspect that both the national and state Democratic parties are afraid of Gill because they think he will not be easy enough for them to control...i.e., he might actually think for himself every once in a while.  The ultimate sin in politics these days.

I almost think that they want Gill to lose to Davis this year so they can run a career politician who is easier to control against Davis in 2014.  Someone like, oh, I don't know, Mike Frerichs?