A federal court decision chips away at Illinois’ campaign contribution limits by legalizing super PACs at the state level. The court ruled in favor of pro-choice group Personal PAC citing the Citizen’s United Supreme Court decision. The limits took effect in 2011 and were passed in response to the Blagojevich scandal.
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Most of the limits remain intact but now political action committees in Illinois can raise unlimited amounts of money from anyone, including unions and corporations, and spend without restrictions on behalf of or against candidates, as long as they don’t talk directly to the candidate’s campaign.
Illinois campaign finance expert Kent Redfield says that means more TV campaign ads and more pressure on candidates by special interests. “And this creates leverage. If you don’t vote with us two years from now our super PAC is going to run ads against you,” Redfield says. He says he doesn’t expect the decision to impact the legislative elections this year since they’re usually uncompetitive. “You wouldn’t want to elect someone independent of [House speaker Michael Madigan] when the speaker pretty much controls everything in the House,” Redfield says. Redfield says he doesn’t expect Illinois to appeal and it will most likely amend the 2011 laws to comply with the decision.