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Illinois House votes to roll back limits on campaign donations

The Illinois House Wednesday voted roll back campaign contributilimits. | Sun-Times Media

The Illinois House on Wednesday voted to roll back campaign contribution limits. | Sun-Times Media

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Updated: July 6, 2012 9:10AM



SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois House voted Wednesday to roll back landmark contribution limits whenever Super PACs make major donations to gubernatorial, legislative, judicial or municipal campaigns.

Opposed by several campaign-finance watchdog groups, including the Campaign for Political Reform, the measure sponsored by House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie (D-Chicago) passed 63-55 and now moves to the Senate.

Her legislation would permit candidates to ignore contribution limits whenever an independent committee or individual gives $250,000 or more to a statewide candidate or $100,000 for lower-ballot candidates.

“I do not believe any candidate should be defenseless against the super PAC that comes along and wants to destroy him or her in a political campaign,” Currie said. “I don’t want to turn our democracy over to the big money.”

Super PACs don’t contribute to candidates and are allowed under a 2010 U.S. Supreme Court opinion to make unlimited expenditures so long as there is no coordination with a political campaign.

In March, acting on a challenge against Illinois’ cap on contributions by the abortion-rights group Personal PAC, a federal judge in Chicago ruled the state law couldn’t be applied to political action committees that make expenditures independent of campaigns, opening the door to SuperPACs in Illinois.

A 2009 state law barred contributions to candidates of more than $5,000 from an individual, $10,000 from business and labor group and $50,000 from a political-action committee.

Republicans said the Democrat-drafted bill would “blow a big gaping hole” in the three-year-old campaign-finance law, which was passed as a response to fund-raising illegalities by the state’s two last imprisoned governors.

“Have you forgotten about the crimes of Rod Blagojevich and George Ryan?” asked state Rep. Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs), who voted against the measure.



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