Forum: Exception needed to campaign funding caps
June 1, 2012 7:24PM
Updated: July 6, 2012 11:02AM
I’ve proposed the elimination of political campaign contribution caps in any statewide contest where a Super PAC spends $250,000 to support one candidate or, in other races, $100,000.
Phil Kadner’s May 25 column says candidates would create Super PACs in order to trigger the end of the contribution cap. Mr. Kadner is wrong because that would be illegal. A federal court ruling has held that only independent committees, those that are not coordinated with any candidate, are exempt from the state’s contribution limits.
Court rulings prohibit Illinois from limiting the amount that a candidate can spend from his or her personal fortune. But when a candidate funds their campaign to the tune of $250,000 on a statewide race or by $100,000 on any other race, we permit the other candidates to ignore the caps as well.
Applying the same principle to Super PACs makes sense.
Why should a candidate be defenseless when a Super PAC is throwing a ton of money at them? Generally, reformers believe that big money in politics is, if not corrupting, certainly a taint on the political process. How can it help to turn the outcome of an election over to the deepest pockets?
My bill permits any candidate, the attorney general’s office or a state’s attorney’s office to file a lawsuit immediately if there is evidence of coordination between a Super PAC and a candidate it funds. The court could stop such Super PAC spending in its tracks.
I would prefer a different political landscape, that the U.S. Supreme Court had upheld contribution limits across the board.
I didn’t create the reality that big spending has come to Illinois political campaigns.
But I can try to make sure that candidates on the wrong end of limitless Super PAC spending have at least a fighting chance to level the field.
State Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie (D-Chicago)
House Majority Leader
Some ideas on reforming public pensions
State and local governments have continued to contribute to the state’s pension crisis by offering early retirement.
Early retirement offered to senior employees allows an agency to eliminate the position or, if necessary, fill it with a younger employee at a lower salary. Also, reducing the retirement requirements of age and time served, while our life expectancy rises, means retirees are going to get benefits for a longer time and play havoc with pension funds.
Many younger government retirees seek other employment while collecting pensions. Governmental retirement plans need to modify their retirement ages to 60 or 65 with at least 30 years of service.
If a person retires before the minimum retirement age, he or she should be ineligible for benefits until reaching the minimum age. The practice of allowing “double dippers” to collect two government pensions should be prohibited.