A law that was supposed to limit campaign contributions in Illinois may be backfiring. A campaign finance task force says the law has made things even more unbalanced. The Campaign Finance Reform Task Force says the Personal PAC ruling, which legalizes super PACs in Illinois, will make lawmakers less accountable for the messages of the campaign ads being broadcast. That’s because super PACs and candidates aren’t legally allowed to coordinate.
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But since unions and corporations can contribute unlimited amounts of money to super PACs directly from their treasuries, they could out-fundraise the candidates they support, who are confined to fundraising limits. Rupert Borgsmiller, executive director of the Illinois State Board of Elections, says the Personal PAC ruling has created a lot of uncertainty about how to regulate super PACs. “And I think that’s what the whole crux of this is, is that I think they’re worried that there could be a proliferation of independent expenditure committees that are going to get involved in these Illinois elections,” Borgsmiller says.
The contribution limits law, passed in response to the Blagojevich scandal, set the first caps on campaign contributions in Illinois history, a major accomplishment to some reformers. Borgsmiller says that was no easy task. “They worked on this legislation. There were numerous drafts going back and forth. There was a lot of time and effort spent in,” he says. Borgsmiller says the law is still young and hasn’t lived through its first general election. He says lawmakers will have a better understanding of how well the law is working if they wait.