Thursday, April 07, 2005

campaign disclosure reports

What are the requirements for Illinois campaign disclosure forms listing profession and employer for contributors?

I am doing research on some stuff for the Forest Park Review. (Have you seen my article on Captain Chris Miller of Naval Reserve Center Forest Park being activated as part of the U.S. military's tsunami relief effort?) I've noticed that campaigns don't do a very good job with this part of the forms.

To pick on Karen Yarbrough, Joe Ponsetto contributed to her campaign. On her D-2s it says something to the effect that the campaign made a good faith effort to determine Ponsetto's occupation and employer. I know Yarbrough knows he's an attorney that works for the Illinois Attorney General.

And another thing.

Illinois allows corporations and businesses to contribute. But sometimes this can be used to obfuscate who is actually writing the check. What are the rules on this? Should contributions from businesses be required to disclose the head of the business?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

One of the biggest, yet least discussed, weaknesses in both federal and state campaign finance reports is the lack of standards for disclosing employer and occupation. A lot of the big money donors own several different businesses, and easily -- an legally -- pick and choose what to disclose.

As for the failure to list any occupation: I believe that the State Board of Elections has regulations that pretty much mirror the FEC rules that guide candidate committees when the donor does not fill out a form listing employer and occupation. Essentially, the candidate committee has to try to call or send a letter to the donor soliciting the information. If they reach out, and the donor doesn't provide the information, the committee indicates "best efforts" on the disclosure form. In Illinois, the statute requires a "good faith" effort to ascertain the employer and occupation.

It's unclear what obligations the committee has to report an employer or occupation based on personal knowledge rather than self-disclosure.

These standards are loose, to say the least.

1:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gee, a politician not telling the truth? What's next?

Seriously, the whole thing is a joke because the legislature didn't give the State Board of Elections any teeth. There will be no true election reform or campaign finance reform until actual "reformers" are empowered.

When was the last time you heard of anyone being charged under the new State of Illinois Ethics Act?

7:22 AM  
Blogger Sebastian said...

As a treasurer for an alderman, I am instructed to go beyond "best efforts." I've even called donors personally to ask them this information. Google search, searching corporation records and cross-checking them. Whatever.

"Best efforts" is a nice word that usually means "too lazy to find out." Since I don't like collecting fines for myself and my committee, we just find out and report. This may be anathema to some committees, but for us it's business as usual.

8:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Politicians who accept money for campaigns? It obviously leads to political favors and "liaison" jobs. Everyone, please check out IDOT - Blago loves to put unqualified people who have contributed to his campaign in positions, yes, even in Civil Engineering positions. If he can't get them in because they are not professionals, he tries to reclassify the jobs down to "technician" positions. His people replace highly qualified professionals who have worked their butts off for years and are next in line for promotions. Blago places people who have been fired from previous jobs, who have criminal records, in high paying positions. They do next to nothing. Blago's people do not care about the taxpayers. If they really cared about saving money, they would look into agencies like IDOT where honest employees point out dishonest practices that cost the state millions of dollars annually, even millions of dollars per contract, and these complaints go "up" even to Springfield, yet no one does anything about it. Yet Blago wants to take away pensions and make other ridiculous cuts to balance his budget. It's disgusting.

8:00 AM  

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