Tom Kacich: Campaign records show local donations

Tom Kacich: Campaign records show local donations

The quarterly state campaign disclosure reports filed last week are the last full look at campaign funding before the March 18 primary election in Illinois, and they offer an interesting look at campaign fundraising in East Central Illinois.

Somewhat surprisingly, neither incumbent Gov. Pat Quinn nor Republican gubernatorial frontrunner Bruce Rauner — who raised an incredible $4.1 million between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31 but spent $4.3 million during the period — was the local leader.

The king of the East Central Illinois fundraising mountain was Sen. Bill Brady of Bloomington, one of Rauner's foes for the Republican gubernatorial nomination. Brady raised a meager $73,665 statewide during the fourth quarter of 2013, but got $15,800 out of Champaign County, all from one source: $10,500 from Tri-Star Marketing in Champaign, parent company of area Super Pantry stores, and another $5,300 from Jon Stewart, the owner of Tri-Star Marketing.

Rauner raised just $2,000 in itemized contributions from the area in the quarter. State Treasurer Dan Rutherford, also a GOP candidate for governor, raised $2,824, including a $199.59 in-kind contribution from Karen Miller of Urbana. State Sen. Kirk Dillard of Hinsdale received no campaign funds from the area in the last quarter.

State Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka raised $2,750 from area Republicans, and Sen. Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet, brought in $3,770.

Among Democrats, the leading fundraiser was a surprise: Senate President John Cullerton of Chicago, who got $5,000 from the Illinois Prairie State Chiropractic Assn. in Urbana, $2,500 from Health Alliance in Urbana, and $500 from Jim Bailey of Danville.

The next most favored Democrat was — surprise! — Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who got a $5,300 contribution from — surprise! — Leslie Liautaud of Champaign. Her husband, James "Jimmy John" Liautaud, famously said last year that he was finished giving money to politicians.

"I am not supporting any politician anyway. I am retired from politics," James Liautaud said. "And I have no plans of coming out of retirement."

Gov. Quinn got just $1,750 from East Central Illinois: $1,000 from the Prairie State Chiropractic group and $750 from Chirag Shah of Danville, a law professor at the University of Illinois.

Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon, a Democratic candidate for comptroller against Topinka, raised $2,150.

Davis with the tea party?

Americans United for Change, a Washington, D.C.-based group aligned with liberal and labor union causes, last week issued a "tea party scorecard" that alleged that U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, voted with tea party 75 percent of the time in 2013.

Americans United for Change admitted, however, that there is no official group that speaks for the loosely defined "tea party." But it said two national organizations — Americans for Prosperity and Freedomworks — have been closely associated with the formation and promotion of the tea party ideology, and that both have congressional voting scorecards.

The "tea party scorecard" was based on 48 votes on issues such as relief funds for Hurricane Sandy victims, support for the Keystone XL pipeline, food stamp cuts and various votes on the Affordable Care Act.

Asked whether he heeded a tea party philosophy, Davis said, "I take my orders from the constituents that I'm honored to represent in this district. I believe the people in this district sent me to Washington to work together and govern, without sacrificing my core principles and values."

He added, "Thee are many on my side of the aisle who don't think I'm conservative enough and then there are many who think I'm too conservative. To me, I just want to govern. I want to work together with both sides. I want to bring enough people together to pass bills that will save the taxpayers billion of dollars, because when we can do that we're finally making progress on bringing our country's financial future into a much more positive balance."

Ammons-Rosenberg debate

The two Democratic candidates in the 103rd Illinois House District, Carol Ammons of Urbana and Sam Rosenberg of Champaign, will meet in a debate from 7 to 8 p.m. next Wednesday, Feb. 5, in the Lyle Shields Room at the Brookens Administrative Center, 1776 E. Washington St., U. The debate is cosponsored by the Champaign County Young Democrats and the North End Breakfast Club. It is the first debate between the two candidates seeking to succeed state Rep. Naomi Jakobsson, D-Urbana, who last year announced that she would retire at the end of this term.

Kristin Williamson of Urbana is the only Republican candidate in the 103rd District, which includes almost all of Champaign and Urbana.

And finally ...

Christina Gann, the operations manager at St. Paul's Lutheran Church's tornado-relief site in Gifford and the community's de facto public information coordinator, gave a terrific rundown Monday night of storm recovery progress in the northeastern Champaign County community. Among the less-vital issues she addressed: Where are all the stop signs that were flattened in the Nov. 17 tornado?

"The stop signs have been ordered but the problem is that when the ground is frozen as it is, you cannot get the poles into the ground," she explained. "And they are hesitant to put out 30 temporary stop signs because there are 30 teenage boys who would love to have those hanging on their walls. And those are too expensive to have them just used as a trophy."

When the laughter subsided, she offered a delightful suggestion that you'll only hear in a small town like Gifford:

"So we're asking if you know where the stop sign used to be, please obey the stop sign."

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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Tags (1):2014 election