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Top 20 career patrons for state office holders released

July 1, 1993

Top 20 career patrons for state office holders released

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After reviewing and analyzing 25 years of campaign contribution records, researchers have identified the top 20 patrons of the political careers of the state’s top elected officials.

The top 20 career patrons—those who have given the most money during a politician’s career—and additional information about their connections to state government were unveiled on the web site (www.ilcampaign.org) of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform (ICPR).

Some of the findings:

• The Illinois State Medical Society and the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association finished in the top 20 career patrons of all four Republican constitutional officers. The total $592,323 from the physicians’ group more than doubled the contributions from the manufacturers.

• Attorney General Jim Ryan’s campaign committee has been the beneficiary of the most generous career patron—a combined $676,248 from the worldwide electronics firm Molex and its two co-chairmen.

• Only eight contributors appeared on a patron list of a Republican and a Democrat. Example: The Illinois Education Association (IEA), the state’s largest teachers union and the all-time number one contributor ($306,800) to Republican Governor George Ryan has given $71,000 to Democrat Sec. of State Jesse White and $67,605 to Democratic Comptroller Daniel W. Hynes.

• With combined contributions of $266,036, the political action committee for the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees International Union, appeared on the lists for two Republicans—both Ryans–and two Democrats—White and Hynes.

The extensive research was conducted by Kent Redfield, the director of the Sunshine Project and a professor of political studies at

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the University of Illinois at Springfield, with the assistance of the ICPR.

“The research allows voters to learn more about the major financial backers of each of the constitutional officers,” Redfield said. “A few of the most active lobbying organizations, like the Illinois State Medical Society and the Illinois Education Association, appear on more than one of the top 20 career lists, but some other career patrons are infrequent contributors to candidates.”

“Because successful statewide candidates wage multi-million-dollar election campaigns, the candidates devote a lot of time and energy to soliciting contributions,” Canary said. “It is important for voters to know who is saying ‘yes’ to the candidates and writing the checks. This research identifies the biggest contributors—the people and organizations who have given time and time again.”

The Sunshine Project is based at the University of Illinois at Springfield and is funded by the Joyce Foundation. Its goal is to increase public awareness and understanding of the role of money in Illinois politics.

The Illinois Campaign for Political Reform is a non-partisan, not-for-profit organization chaired by former U.S. Senator Paul Simon and is funded primarily by foundation grants. The ICPR is working to reform campaign finance and ethics laws in Illinois.

The complete report on the top 20 career patrons for each constitutional officer is available at www.Ilcampaign.org. The web site also features a searchable database that permits electronic searches of campaign contribution information by candidates and contributors.

Campaign committees must report contributors to campaigns for the last six months of 2001 by Jan. 31. That new information will be added to the career patron list, and the Sunshine Project will issue an updated list next month. The new list also will include patrons for all of the candidates running for governor this year.

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