Tom Kacich: Shimkus' coffers, influence growing steadily

There may have been a time when John Shimkus, the U.S. Army veteran, former high school teacher and Madison County treasurer, had modest goals for his time in Congress.

Shimkus, in fact, went to Washington saying he would serve no more than six terms. That was nine terms ago.

But now the Republican congressman from Collinsville who tweets Bible verses almost every morning and loves to talk about making government smaller, has become an influential Washington insider.

He's chairman of a major House subcommittee that is responsible for legislation and the oversight of toxic substances, drinking water, fracking and the regulation of solid, hazardous and nuclear wastes. As such he is the recipient of hundreds of thousands of dollars every year from political action committees representing electric utilities, oil companies, chemical companies, manufacturers, labor unions, agribusinesses and more.

In the April through June period, Shimkus raised $354,575. About a tenth of that sum — $34,375 — came from individuals, and most of those itemized donations were from outside his district.

The rest of Shimkus' haul during the three months — $320,200 — came from big PACs like Exxon Mobil, Boeing, John Deere, Honeywell, Altria, Halliburton and Edison International, the parent company of Southern California Edison. There were dozens more contributors of between $5,000 and $1,000 to Shimkus' campaign fund.

He's a reliable vote against regulation and most environmental measures, like the recent House floor vote that gave states rather than the federal government the authority to regulate toxic coal ash left from coal-burning power plants. Shimkus called the legislation "pro-jobs, pro-environment, anti-bureaucracy."

Now he's involved in fashioning an agreement on renewable fuel standards, a discussion that pits two industry groups — and two constituencies of his in southern and eastern Illinois — against each other. On one side he has ADM and the National Corn Growers Association (each of which gave him $1,000 contributions in April) against Marathon Oil, the Independent Petroleum Association of America, Chevron, Exxon Mobil, Phillips 66, Tesoro Petroleum, and the American Petroleum Institute (each of which gave him $1,000 or more in the last quarter).

It's a far cry from Shimkus' first successful race for Congress in 1996, when he raised $569,566, and more than half that amount — nearly $300,000 — came from individuals.

Since then he's morphed into the Washington PACman.

And it's not just about the money coming in.

Shimkus spends it, too, on fundraising consultants, tickets for concerts and sporting events, thousands of dollars on catering for fundraisers in Washington, D.C., and Chicago, and transfers out to the National Republican Congressional Committee, where it can be spent to help elect other Republicans.

Of Illinois' 18 congressmen, Shimkus has the second-biggest campaign account (just over $1 million on hand on June 30). He trails only Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Peoria, who was building a treasury in advance of a possible run for governor (which he isn't doing).

Shimkus is in the political sweet spot to use his campaign fund as an influential goodies account: the money coming in from PACs and going out to other Republicans and to raise even more money.

He doesn't need the cash himself. Last year he was opposed by a conservative Democrat who raised about $10,000 and barely campaigned. And his district — which now includes parts of Champaign and Ford counties and all of Vermilion, Douglas, Coles and Edgar counties — is rated the most Republican in Illinois: Mitt Romney got about 64 percent of the presidential vote there last year. Unless he makes a major misstep or decides to retire (he's only 55), Shimkus is a lock to finish the decade in Congress and advance farther up the congressional leadership chain.

His conversion into a Washington insider is a good example of the flaws of partisan redistricting, even when it's done by the opposite party. Democrats drew Illinois' congressional districts and loaded as many Republican votes into two districts — Shimkus' 15th and Schock's 18th — as they could. That made for more competitive races overall, but meant that the two downstate Republicans essentially go unchallenged for 10 years while soaking up PAC money and redistributing it.

It's no wonder Shimkus' term limits pledge was dismissed long ago.

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

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Political Observer wrote on August 04, 2013 at 2:08 pm

Wow! This is a real "Rip Van Winkle" relevation!  It's almost like the News-Gazette just woke up out of a long, deep sleep and finally realized that John Shimkus is a National Laughingstock in Congress (and also in the non-corporate Media) for all the damage he's done to the national and international reputation of Central Illinois! 

Political Observer wrote on August 04, 2013 at 2:08 pm

Back before the 2012 elections, readers could go to the News-Gazette's website, check out the reader comments, and follow links to YouTube videos that showed John Shimkus making a fool out of himself in his own words, while the camera rolled!  For those of you who may have happened to miss those entertaining spectacles, here's your chance to see them for yourself:

http://www.news-gazette.com/news/local/2012-10-01/2012-election-candidat...



Among the videos included in the discussion comments at that link are:

(1) "God Decides When the Earth Will End!"... where Shimkus reads from the book of Genesis in the Bible at a meeting of a Congressional Science Committee, much to the embarrasment of his blonde aide, seated right behind him!

(2)  "Capping C02 Emissions Will Steal 'Plant Food' From the Atmosphere!"...where Shimkus argues that there's a theological argument that we have a carbon-starved atmosphere, and that we actually need to do more to INCREASE the atmospheric content of carbon dioxide, so that there's more "plant food" available to our fellow planetary life-forms!

(3)  The Advocacy of Acid Rain by Shimkus (and also by his 16-year Employee and Protoge, Rodney Davis)...Instructions are given for how to find these videos on YouTube.

(4)  "Corporate Titans Are My Friends!"...where Shimkus debates himself on camera, explaining how he can be friends and allies of Corporate Titans, entirely doing their bidding and acting as their dedicated and trusted servant, yet all the while defending and representing the common citizens of his district, and acting as their devoted advocate, as well!  Somehow, Shimkus seems to think he's uniquely qualified to do it all, and sees no problems in representing the interests of both competing sides simultaneously!  (If you're also interested in purchasing the historic Brooklyn Bridge directly from Mr. Shimkus, please contact him through his area Congressional Office, as it just happens to turn out that he currently has it available for purchase!)

Political Observer wrote on August 04, 2013 at 2:08 pm

Coming Up in Next Sunday's Column by Tom Kacich:  Why the News-Gazette Chose to Endorse and Support Rodney Davis, the 16-year Employee and Protoge of John Shimkus, in the 2012 Davis Campaign for Congress!

chambana visionary wrote on August 04, 2013 at 4:08 pm

All the more reason we need to send Erika Harold to Congress and correct the sham process by which Shimkus and his fellow Luddites chose Racist Rodney. We need to shut down the anti-science Jim Allen wing of the party if the Republicans ever will become relevant again. Rodney should step out of the way before he gets flattened by Erika if he insists on this wasteful and unnecessary primary. 

Mr Dreamy wrote on August 05, 2013 at 4:08 pm

Erica Harold is a non-starter. She built a career, or at least a reputation, about being bullied at Uni High. Uni High! What a laugh, what a lie. An empty suit, pretty but vacuous, a Harvard law degree based on factors outside pure academic ability (not unusual at Harvard, they select who they want for any reason they want, it is not merit based) she's nothing more than any other hubris-filled wannabe who has jumped in way too soon. In November 2014 she will be relegated to the ash-heap of "15 minutes of fame".

Political Observer wrote on August 06, 2013 at 5:08 am

Wow!  Thanks for helping to wake us up, Mr. Dreamy!  I never would have guessed that Rodney Davis' undergraduate degree in political science from Millikin, that fine Presbyterian school on Main St. in Decatur, is far more prestigious than Erika Harold's law degree from Harvard!  (One can really learn so many interesting things from the various supporters of Rodney Davis on this forum!  I'm really going to have to visit Mr. Davis' home planet of Taylorville some day!)


Also, when you write, "In November 2014 she [Erika Harold] will be relegated to the ash-heap of '15 minutes of fame.' ," aren't you thereby suggesting that Rodney Davis will be relegated to the ash-heap of '15 minutes of fame' after the March 18, 2014 Illinois primary results have come in?...Or does it somehow take some seven and a half months after one loses an election to get relegated to the ash-heap of '15 minutes of fame?'


And, finally, speaking of ash-heaps, would the ash-heap that you refer to happen to be a heaping helping of toxic, carcinogenic coal ash?...Because that's what John Shimkus and his protege Rodney Davis are trying to sell us these days - namely, toxic, carcinogenic coal ash recycled into friendly products (like wallboard!) for the home, family and community!

Political Observer wrote on August 06, 2013 at 7:08 am

In the video at the link below, Lt. Col. John Shimkus is given a chance in a 9-minute news interview  to respond to people who question what his quotes from the Book of Genesis have to do with global climate change. The interviewer shows us part of the video posted earlier in this discussion, then gives Shimkus a chance to further elaborate his views on climate change.  In his response, Shimkus goes so far as to outline the supposed BENEFITS OF GLOBAL WARMING (!!!), discussing the new “Northwest Passage for cargo shipping,”  mentioning the possibility of “oil and gas recovery under the Arctic Circle,” and then contending that “Greenland is happy to receive tourists and grow their own vegetables!”  He winds up by concluding that, "For every person who thinks climate change is terrible, there are those who are ready to deal and adapt with the changes that have occurred throughout the history of the Earth."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AXpbhcZpKJk&feature=related

 

Mr Dreamy wrote on August 06, 2013 at 8:08 am

I stand corrected, PO, Ms Pretty will be relegated to the ash heap in March, just like you said.

She isn't running against Shimkus, she's running against Davis, so attacking Shimkus is pointless. You clearly understand my point about Harvard, it's admissions policies do not reflect merit, just as any other private school, and you apparently understand that Miss America prize money gets you from small town schools to Harvard, and that Harvard is shallow enough to knock off multiple checkpoints by letting Harold attend.

If Davis isn't good for you, is some beauty queen with no experience, someone who built her reputation on lies (she left Uni High not because she was bullied but because she couldn't cut it academically, so she quit, claimed bullying, and enrolled at Urbana HS, where a donut could get straight A's), someone who has no gravitas, no record, no nothing but sweet talk about family values and Christian ideals.

if she can't handle "bullying" by high school nerds, she sure has no place in Congress.

Political Observer wrote on August 06, 2013 at 11:08 pm

Well, I assume you still remember, Mr. Dreamy, that the News-Gazette endorsed Erika Harold over Rodney Davis, Jerry Clarke and Kathy Wassink on the day before the Illinois Republican County Chairmen met to select their candidate?  In endorsing her candidacy over the candidacies of the other three, they seemed to see a completely different person than the person you're trying to describe.  They wrote:
-------------------------
Our choice is the 32-year-old Harold.

Despite her relative youth, Harold combines poise and personality with solid political skills, a philosophical perspective to guide her policy positions and a solid grasp of the issues.
------------------------

As for Davis, Clarke and Wassink, they wrote:

-----------------------
None of them, however, demonstrates the kind of potential political appeal of Harold, who can attract and win over an audience made up of all kinds of people.

Many Democrats, of course, will sneer at Harold's candidacy. The farther away they are from East Central Illinois, the more they will ridicule the choice of a former Miss America as a Republican congressional candidate.

But Harold, a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Illinois and Harvard Law School, will knock the stereotype of a vacuous Miss America out cold. That's what she been doing during the candidate forums throughout the district. During last weekend's joint appearance in Champaign, Harold was easily the most impressive speaker.
-----------------------

STM wrote on August 09, 2013 at 12:08 pm

???

Political Observer wrote on August 11, 2013 at 11:08 pm

Yes, "???" !!!

Mr Dreamy wrote on August 07, 2013 at 11:08 am

The value of the News Gazette endorsement is well known as worthless. It has limited circulation in the Champaign County area only, and certainly doesn't reach the vast majority of voters in the District.  It's easy to be breathless about the local beauty queen running for office. "Look, she's so pretty, so educated, so dedicated to causes like stopping bullying. Throw out the experienced guy, he's too open, too honest, and not partisan enough. He's probably a RINO, he talks to Democrats!"

Look, I'm not much of a Davis fan, but I'm a whole lot smarter than to fall for a beauty queen with NO GOVERNMENTAL EXPERIENCE. Meeting glitterati is not the same as actual experience. Let her run for County Board, State's Attorney, especially State's Attorney where she could actually accomplish something, but Congress? Where bullying is a high art form?

Sorry Princess, it's not your time, and you just don't have the toughness it takes to stand up to very aggressive politicians.

Mr Dreamy wrote on August 07, 2013 at 11:08 am

The value of the News Gazette endorsement is well known as worthless. It has limited circulation in the Champaign County area only, and certainly doesn't reach the vast majority of voters in the District.  It's easy to be breathless about the local beauty queen running for office. "Look, she's so pretty, so educated, so dedicated to causes like stopping bullying. Throw out the experienced guy, he's too open, too honest, and not partisan enough. He's probably a RINO, he talks to Democrats!"

Look, I'm not much of a Davis fan, but I'm a whole lot smarter than to fall for a beauty queen with NO GOVERNMENTAL EXPERIENCE. Meeting glitterati is not the same as actual experience. Let her run for County Board, State's Attorney, especially State's Attorney where she could actually accomplish something, but Congress? Where bullying is a high art form?

Sorry Princess, it's not your time, and you just don't have the toughness it takes to stand up to very aggressive politicians.

Political Observer wrote on August 09, 2013 at 1:08 am

So, what it comes down to, Mr. Dreamy, is EXPERIENCE??! You actually think that Rodney Davis' EXPERIENCE is an argument that works IN HIS FAVOR????!

Let's take a look at that EXPERIENCE. Davis finished up at Decatur's Millikin University in 1992, so when he ran for Congress in 2012, he'd been out of school for a little over 20 years. That 20 years can be broken down into the first 4 years, when Davis worked in George Ryan's Illinois Secretary of State's Office, where he was at Ground Zero of Ryan's "Licenses for Bribes" Scandal and the other rotten malfeasance that ultimately sent Ryan to prison...not to mention, the subsequent 16 YEARS, where Davis worked for JOHN SHIMKUS, who, as this discussion thread shows, is one of the absolute dimmest bulbs in Congress, and a national and international laughingstock!

That's the EXPERIENCE of Rodney Davis that you want us to count IN HIS FAVOR?!!!!

Political Observer wrote on August 09, 2013 at 1:08 am

To elaborate on the EXPERIENCE of Rodney Davis a bit, it's important to note that Davis consistently lies about his time working in the IL Secretary of State's Office.. For instance, in talking about this time, Davis tells people that he was just a low-level employee who didn't know what was going on in the corrupt patronage system of George Ryan.

Here's a link to an article that shows how untruthful that story is:

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/11/04/1155640/-Rodney-Davis-not-entir...

As this article tells you, the Finance Director of George Ryan's campaign fund was a woman named Deb Detmers. If you do a bit of websearching on her, you can find all kinds of articles where she testified about Ryan's corrupt patronage system...She knew this from firsthand experience, because she was testifying about her own role in the scheme.

Now pay attention to what comes next:  It turns out that Ms. Detmers was also the Manager of the Indexing Department where Rodney Davis worked...Yep, that's right!! Another way of saying that is that the person who was in charge of the funny business that went on in George Ryan's campaign financing was actually the person who Rodney Davis had for his BOSS!

The article above goes on to tie a number of connections among people who at one time worked for George Ryan and then later went on to work for John Shimkus; these are people who worked with Rodney Davis in the IL Secretary of State's Office and donated money to his failed state representative campaign, and they continue to be good friends of his today. In other words, despite his protestations otherwise, Rodney Davis was really very well tied-in to the George Ryan corruption racket during his first 4 years of working after college.

And as for the 16 years of EXPERIENCE that Rodney Davis gained, working for John Shimkus after that...Well, that VAUNTED EXPERIENCE culminated in the crime wave that Davis orchestrated during the period of time when Pat Brady stepped aside to support his cancer-stricken wife, when Davis had his opportunity to play "Substitute Illinois Republican Party Chairman" and engage in the  $$$ MASSIVE DASH FOR THE MEGADOLLARS!!! $$$ at the same time!

 

 

Political Observer wrote on August 09, 2013 at 1:08 am

Specifically, Rodney Davis' Major Criminal Activity during his $$$ MASSIVE DASH FOR THE MEGADOLLARS!!! $$$ Crime Wave (while on loan from John Shimkus to the Illinois Republican Party) included both:

(1) Money Laundering, and

(2) Campaign Finance Law Violations, as detailed below:

-----------------------------------

(1)  The money laundering came to public attention via the former Treasurer of the Illinois Republican Party, Doug Ibendahl, who pointed out a suspicious series of donations by Ken and Anne Dias Griffin, a wealthy Republican couple from the Chicago area, to various IL county-level Republican parties, that were then returned to the IL Republican Party, where they supposedly were used to pay for $5000 / person tickets to a Karl Rove dinner. Rodney Davis worked both sides of this scheme, by first introducing Republican County Chairmen to the Griffins to set up the donations in the first place, and then by subsequently helping to sponsor the dinner and promoting the sale of the dinner tickets so that the money would come back to the state Republican Party. (This money laundering scheme was similar to a scheme that Tom DeLay earlier orchestrated in Texas, in the dirty trick that sent him from Dancing with the Stars to doing the Jail House Rock with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice!)

http://republicannewswatch.com/wp/?p=12032

http://www.sj-r.com/thedome/x1809313233/Bernard-Schoenburg-Billionaires-...

http://capitolfax.com/2012/05/10/question-of-the-day-1377/

(2) Rodney Davis' campaign finance law violations were detailed in the article below:

Ethics office: Davis didn't cooperate with Schock probe

http://www.news-gazette.com/news/local/2013-02-08/ethics-office-davis-di...

---------------------------------

 

 

 

Political Observer wrote on August 11, 2013 at 11:08 pm

Now, just to spell this out in a bit more detail, Tom Kacich writes in the 2-8-13 News-Gazette article at the link above:
---------------------------
According to the accusations by the bipartisan Office of Congressional Ethics, "[Aaron] Schock may have solicited contributions for an independent expenditure-only political committee in excess of $5,000 per donor, in violation of federal law, House rules, and standards of conduct" while raising money for Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Manteno, in his GOP primary race against Rep. Donald Manzullo, R-Egan.
----------------------------
Later in that Kacich article, comes this devastating bit of information:
----------------------------
A staffer for the Campaign for Primary Accountability said that [Rodney] Davis was the contact for five major donations in March 2012 for ads opposing Manzullo — $25,000 from the 18th District Republican Central Committee, $25,000 for Rep. Eric Cantor's Every Republican is Crucial PAC, $5,000 from the American College of Radiology PAC and $35,000 from someone identified as "Donor 1" and $30,000 from a "Donor 2."

The CPA staffer, identified as a development coordinator, said that she knew Davis to be affiliated with Cantor's PAC and the 18th District committee, according to the OCE.
-----------------------------
OK, so of the 5 donations that the PAC staffer had listed Rodney Davis as the contact person for in her records, 4 of the donations appear to be over the campaign contribution limits ($25K, $25K, $35K and $30K).  One would think that if there were a simple explanation for what's going on here, Davis would just give it, rather than allow a black cloud of campaign contributions illegalities hang over his head for an indefinite period of time...but instead he decided to stonewall the investigation of the bipartisan Office of Congressional Ethics (that is, he refused to testify to them)...So now the scene is starting to look like an old-time film noir, where the escaping desperado yells out to the pursuing agents of law enforcement, "Come and get me, if you can, Coppers!"