ComEd gave big-time to state legislators who voted for rate-hike bill
BY DAVE MCKINNEY Sun-Times Springfield Bureau Chief email@example.com November 2, 2011 2:24PM
State Sen. Kirk Dillard (far left) received more contributions from Commonwealth Edison and other utilities than any other rank-and-file legislator this year. | Sun-Times Media file
Updated: December 4, 2011 11:09AM
SPRINGFIELD — Commonwealth Edison and other backers of newly passed rate-hike legislation outspent opponents by a 4-to-1 margin this year on campaign contributions at the Statehouse, a government watchdog reported Wednesday.
Utility companies contributed more than $867,000 this year, compared to slightly more than $185,000 from groups that, along with Gov. Pat Quinn, lost the battle last week over rate-hike legislation, according to an analysis by the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform.
“It really is an inside game, and it brings up the question [of] where did money influence public policy? Public policy should be about what’s best for the state, not who gives the most campaign contributions,” said Brian Gladstein, the group’s executive director.
His organization analyzed the roll calls of the two sets of votes in the House and Senate that handed ComEd a major political victory and Quinn the biggest legislative defeat of his governorship.
The group found that legislators who sided with ComEd and voted to hike state utility rates raked in utility-tied contributions of $7,616 apiece on average. Those on the losing side wound up getting $1,420 on average from groups opposed to the utility legislation.
The campaign committees controlled by the four legislative leaders, who all backed the utility companies, received more than $295,000 in contributions from those interests.
The rank-and-file legislators who took the most utility money this year were Sen. Kirk Dillard (R-Hinsdale), who received $19,000, and Sen. Mike Jacobs (D-East Moline), who accepted $16,750. Jacobs was the sponsor of the rate-hike legislation that Quinn vetoed, and his father, former state Sen. Denny Jacobs (D-East Moline), is a lobbyist for ComEd.
Quinn took significant heat for bombastically singling out legislators aligned with the utilities before last week’s votes and accusing them of having “three loaves of bread” under the arms because of the contributions they received.
“He seemed a little bit out there, but our take is his comments aren’t completely unfounded,” Gladstein said.
The group’s analysis found that Quinn himself got $2,500 this year in utility company contributions.