A few pick governor

A few pick governor

By Joe Baker

By Joe Baker

Senior Editor

The chief benefactors of the six candidates for governor of Illinois account for nearly $9 million in donations, according to the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform.

Cindi Canary, director of ICPR, said: “Because Illinois has virtually no restrictions on campaign contributions, some very wealthy individuals and organizations are about to become even more powerful players in state government.

“No matter how you slice this pie,” she said, “a miniscule percentage of Illinois voters will be the major contributors to the political career of the next governor.” ICPR and the Sunshine Project have researched more than 20 years of campaign contributions and have compiled profiles of the top 20 contributors in the careers of the three Democrats running for governor—Rod Blagojevich, Roland Burris and Paul Vallas—and the three Republicans—Patrick O’Malley, Jim Ryan and Corinne Wood.

“Labor unions, business associations and professional associations are major influences in the state capital, and it is no surprise to find them high on the lists of career patrons,” said Kent Redfield, director of the Sunshine Project.

Redfield said that scattered through these lists are the names of corporations, law firms, state contractors and candidates’ families and friends. Some, he said, are long time players in state politics, but others have never contributed and now are giving five figures and up.

“Campaign finance regulations in Illinois are little more than bookkeeping rules,” Canary said. “This wide-open state has one simple requirement—the sources of large campaign contributions must be disclosed to the public. In other words, candidates are free to collect as much as they can from anyone who will give them cash or write a check,” she said.

Blagojevich got $900,000 from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. He gave the Democratic group $632,000 in “hard money” raised by his federal campaign committee. The money he received from the DCCC was “soft money.” Because Illinois has no restrictions on the use of such funds, Blagojevich can use it any way he likes.

Roland Burris’ major contributor is Jovan Broadcasting Corp. of Tinley Park. President Joseph Stroud gave Burris $286,170 and also loaned Burris’ campaign $800,000 through his Telephone USA investments.

Paul Vallas, a first-time office seeker, got his major money from Comar Industries of Oakbrook Terrace. Comar’s president, Constantine Danos, contributed $55,000 to the Vallas campaign.

State Sen. Patrick O’Malley has drawn $504,181 from the Illinois Republican State Senate Campaign Committee over the course of his career. The GOP committee has not given to his campaign for governor. O’Malley’s next biggest contributor is John “Jack” Roeser and his group, The Family Taxpayers Network.

Jim Ryan’s number one patron is the Molex Corp. and its co-chairmen, Frederick and John Krehbiel. As of Dec. 31, 2001, Frederick had given Ryan $48,000 and John had donated $10,000 to Ryan. Over Ryan’s career span, the brothers have given $734,248.

Corinne Wood gets her major share of funds from venture capital firm Madison Dearborn Partners, where her husband is a managing partner. The company gave her $270,960. Paul Wood also loaned $1.2 million to his wife’s campaign committee.

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