Bill Daley: No campaign contributions during legislative session

July 1, 2013

(WBEZ/Tony Arnold)
Bill Daley spoke to reporters Monday about limiting when state lawmakers could raise campaign money as part of his campaign for Illinois governor.

A candidate for Illinois governor said Monday that politicians should be limited as to when they can raise campaign cash.

Former White House Chief-of-Staff Bill Daley said state politicians should not raise money on any day the legislature is in session.

“Everybody’s in there trying to affect legislation, affect the game, during the legislative session,” Daley said at a Monday news conference. “Whether it’s unions - and it’s all legal. But it’s part of the game.”

The Chicago Democrat said current law bans office holders from raising money in Springfield on session days, but they can still raise money in other places around the state.

“So if the legislature’s in session on a Tuesday, on Monday everybody can raise money in Sangamon County, but they can’t raise it on Tuesday. This is a joke. This is ridiculous,” he said.

Daley also suggested lawmakers didn’t pass pension reform, in part, because they got campaign contributions from interest groups with a stake in the results. He stopped short of saying it’s the only reason pension reform didn’t pass.

But there are critics to Daley’s proposal.

“I think the spirit of the idea is right. I think maybe the execution doesn’t quite make sense,” said Will Guzzardi, who ran for state representative on Chicago’s Northwest Side last year but lost to incumbent Rep. Toni Berrios in the Democratic primary.

Guzzardi said the fundraising restrictions would hurt challengers for races further down the ballot, who can’t raise as much money as incumbents.

“It doesn’t seem like it’s really going to address the heart of the problem, just to have to turn off the lights on the fundraising thing for certain days of the week,” Guzzardi said.

Instead, Guzzardi said he’d like to see campaign limits the major parties can give to candidates.

Republican Jonathan Greenberg agreed with Guzzardi. Greenberg lost to incumbent Democratic State Rep. Elaine Nekritz in November’s general election.

“You’re making it so that they have three months out of the year or more, four months out of the year, where [challengers] can’t raise any money,” Greenberg said. “Which puts them at a dramatic competitive disadvantage to incumbents.”

Greenberg said it would be easy for a legislator to agree to accept a contribution later in the week after a conversation with a potential donor, and there’s no way to police all the conversations lawmakers have with interest groups or potential donors.

Tony Arnold covers Illinois politics for WBEZ. Follow him @tonyjarnold.