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The Mechanics
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State Politics Wed May 20 2009

Julie Hamos Wants You To Support Contribution Caps

State Representative Julie Hamos (D-Chicago/North Shore) has started a petition to build public support for contribution caps. Currently Illinois is the Wild West of campaign finance, with no real meaningful restrictions of any kind--only disclosure requirements. Hamos wants limits of $2,400, a significant decrease from the current limit of $Infinity.

She's sent an email out to her list asking people to sign the petition and pass it on. (No doubt such an effort also beefs up her reformer cred as she probes a run for Attorney General in the Democratic primary.)

Contribution caps are a favored tool to limit the influence of single individuals or organizations on state policy, but they aren't quite foolproof. A couple Tribune reporters looked into the impact such caps would have had on curtailing Rod Blagojevich's (alleged) corruption, and found it lacking (h/t to Rich Miller at TheCapitolFaxBlog):

Here's one more irony from the downward spiral of Rod Blagojevich: The former governor, brought down by an insatiable hunger for campaign cash, could have played by tight fundraising rules and still had plenty left over to clobber rivals.

The anything-goes campaign finance system in Illinois has become a prime target for reformers, who argue that restricting donations would help level the playing field among candidates and restore confidence in cleaner government.

But a Tribune analysis of tens of thousands of contributions from the last decade illustrates the limits of plans designed to rein in fundraising inequities in a state where the candidate with the thickest wallet usually wins.

Please click through and read the whole Tribune piece, because there's also a good argument made about how the contribution caps could minimize the influence of the House and Senate leaders, who currently hold most of the power in Springfield and raise money by wheelbarrow full, sometimes in 6-figure clips.

 
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Mechanics is the politics section of Gapers Block, reflecting the diversity of viewpoints and beliefs of Chicagoans and Illinoisans. More...
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