Rauner move allows Quinn $100K trade-union boost
By Lynn Sweet Washington Bureau Chief December 30, 2013 10:16PM
Updated: February 1, 2014 6:19AM
WASHINGTON — A big national trade union political action committee contributed $100,000 to Gov. Pat Quinn, with the Democrat benefitting, ironically, because a superrich GOP rival dumped a lot of his own money into his campaign.
That same PAC, the United Association Political Education Committee, based in Annapolis, Md., also last month donated $52,600 to one of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s political warchests — The Chicago Committee — even though his re-election is not until 2015.
Even as Illinois-based government employee unions are unhappy with Quinn and Emanuel over reduced pension benefits and other issues, UA PAC donations in Illinois show organized labor is not speaking with one voice.
The building trade unions have a narrow interest: mainly making sure that government projects are built with union labor.
Quinn reaps the
Last month, the contribution limits were lifted for 2014 Illinois gubernatorial candidates. The restrictions came off because super-rich investor Bruce Rauner donated more than $250,000 to his GOP campaign, triggering an automatic waiver of the state-imposed caps of, per election, $5,300 for individuals and $52,600 from political action committees.Rauner sent the Illinois State Board of Elections his self-funding notice on Nov. 13. Quinn quickly reaped the Rauner bonus — on Nov. 26, the United Association Political Education Committee sent Taxpayers for Quinn, the governor’s campaign fund, a check for $100,000, according to a UA PAC filing with the Federal Election Commission.
Quinn’s campaign will report that donation on Tuesday, I am told.
Lifting the limits is a boost for Quinn, a Chicago resident. For a variety of reasons, Quinn’s fundraising has been very anemic. Now, with no limits — and no costly March Democratic primary — Quinn has an opportunity to stockpile megabucks for the November general election.
Quinn faces only one opponent in the March Democratic primary, the little known former Ceasefire Illinois chief Tio Hardiman of Hillside. (Hardiman’s nominating petitions are being challenged; he may be knocked off the ballot).
Rauner, from Winnetka, has to pay for a GOP primary contest. Rauner is running against state Sen. Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, state Sen. Kirk Dillard, R-Hinsdale, and state Treasurer Dan Rutherford of Chenoa.
So Quinn can, if he can raise it, legally haul in supersized campaign checks even though his rival is not self-financing.
If Rauner is defeated — and contribution caps are restored — Quinn still “would get to keep whatever money he has raised up to that point,” David Morrison, the deputy director of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform, told me.
Rauner’s Rauner bonus
It’s not just about self-funding for Rauner, who has poured $749,000 to date of his own money in his campaign. His investment has a big payoff: By getting rid of limits, his string of wealthy supporters are able step up with jumbo contributions: $100,000 each from Chicago business executives Michael Keiser (Dec. 18) and Joe Mansueto (Dec. 4).
The UA: Chicago
The United Association is one of the major building-trade unions in this country, representing plumbers, pipefitters, welders, sprinkler fitters and HVAC workers.
The UA president, William Hite, is well acquainted with local politics: He is a 1966 graduate of Brother Rice High School, 10001 S. Pulaski Rd. His brothers and son are members of Local 597 in Chicago. Quinn told me in an earlier interview that he met with Hite and other trade union leaders during a visit here on Dec. 9.
The UA in November sent $500,000 to the Democratic Governor’s Association, headquartered here. Quinn’s race is one of the DGA’s 2014 priority contests.
While Illinois public sector unions are seething over state pension changes passed by the Illinois General Assembly and signed into law by Quinn, the UA is jumping into Illinois state Senate contests on the side of the Democratic leadership.
FEC records show that on Nov. 26, the UA PAC sent a $26,300 check to Citizens for John Cullerton, the fund run for Illinois Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) and a $52,600 check for the Illinois Senate Democratic Victory Fund, the Cullerton-run political operation helping bankroll Illinois state Senate contests.