Court Case Could Upend Illinois Campaign Caps


The scandal that brought down former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich led to campaign-contribution caps in Illinois. Advocates of the limits are fearful a case set to be argued before the U.S. Supreme Court Tuesday could upend their efforts.

The campaign finance law Illinois politicians passed in 2009 restricts how much cash companies, unions and people can give to individual candidates. Theoretically, you can give that maximum contribution to every state candidate in Illinois.

But for federal offices, like Congress, there's an overall cap. That's what's being challenged in the McCutcheon case before the U.S. Supreme Court. The Illinois Campaign for Political Reform's David Morrison said the case appears irrelevant to state law … but not so fast.

"If you read the briefs that everybody's filed, it's clear that what the plaintiffs are trying to do with this case is make it that much harder to justify any limits at all on giving to candidates or anyone else," Morrison said.

The possibility the Supreme Court ruling could go beyond the narrow question at hand is what makes this case potentially pivotal.

"If that happens, then we go right back to the Wild West that we used to have, where candidates could essentially extort as much money as they could possibly get from anyone and use that to bury their opponents come election time," Morrison said.

Next year's election is Illinois' first in which the governor and statewide candidates are subject to the fundraising restrictions.

Story source: Illinois Public Radio