IMPORTANT ISSUES | MONEY IN POLITICS
IMPORTANT ILLINOIS ISSUES
MONEY IN POLITICS
Illinois political campaigns have long been financed through a system some consider legalized bribery. Representatives are essentially working for lobbyists and donors, and not you.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
Big money dominates our elections, a problem which spiraled out of control in 2010, after the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision allowed groups to spend unlimited money in elections. In 2016, over $6.5 billion was spent on the Presidential election, mostly from anonymous “megadonors” and corporations, which donate to politicians through Super PACs. Too often, this means that those who spend the most win, no matter who they are or where they run. Right now, Illinois’ gubernatorial election is on its way to becoming the most expensive in history, with over $172 million raised so far. In the primary election, Republican nominee Bruce Rauner spent $215 for every vote he received, while Democrat J.B. Pritzker spent $125 per vote. Their opponents Jeanne Ives, Daniel Biss, and Chris Kennedy spent less than $20 each for every vote they won.
HOW DOES THIS AFFECT ME?
When elections become a question of which candidate has the most money, instead of which candidate has the right ideas and experience, we all lose. Politicians that are more accountable to special interests and big donors than they are to people don’t listen to us when we demand change. Whether it’s on tax reform, gun control, or environmental protection, wealthy and powerful interests use our broken political system to buy our leaders’ votes and shut the working class out of politics. No matter what issue is important to you, money in politics makes it impossible to get it done without millions of dollars in lobbying and campaign contributions.
- Elections that are unfair, or don‘t offer a real choice
- Elected legislators who are less likely to answer to voters’ concerns knowing their job performances have no consequence
- Longer terms for legislators who may not be fairly representing their communities
- Elected legislators who may be more likely to answer to campaign donors than the community they represent
WHERE DO ILLINOIS LEGISLATORS STAND?
In 2017, 31 state senators voted for SB 1424, a bill that tried to bring some balance to the system by matching small donations from ordinary people. Unfortunately, neither that bill nor a similar one that was introduced in the House this spring were allowed to move forward. But in the year since that bill was stalled in the state house, our politicians haven’t taken any steps to limit the influence of money in politics or reform campaign finance.
WHAT CAN I DO?
Last year, the Fair Elections campaign proposed SB-1424, a bill that would fix our broken campaign finance system. SB-1424 creates a small donor match program that forces politicians to seek small donations from ordinary people in order to win their elections, by matching donations up to $150 on a 6:1 ratio. This means that candidates with strong support in their communities wouldn’t need to solicit payouts from corporations and interest groups to compete. 79% of Chicago voters supported this system for their city, and the Fair Elections campaign is working to make it a reality. You can take the pledge to support Fair Elections here.
- Common Cause Illinois
- Better Government Association
- Illinois Public Interest Group
- Illinois Campaign for Political Reform
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