Illinois Politician To Return Campaign Cash From CEO Charged In Capitol Riot

Capitol
Police and security forces attempt to hold back a mob of pro-Trump extremists as they storm the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Wednesday. John Minchillo / Associated Press
Capitol
Police and security forces attempt to hold back a mob of pro-Trump extremists as they storm the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Wednesday. John Minchillo / Associated Press

Illinois Politician To Return Campaign Cash From CEO Charged In Capitol Riot

Conservative Illinois politician Jeanne Ives said Saturday she would return campaign contributions from a northwest suburban businessman charged criminally in the violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol this week.

Longtime executive Bradley Rukstales of Inverness contributed a total of $2,250 to Ives’ unsuccessful campaign for Congress last year, with three contributions in August, September and October, according to federal campaign-finance reports.

On Wednesday, Rukstales was arrested on the upper level of the Capitol, near the U.S. House of Representatives, during the riot by supporters of President Donald Trump, court records show. Prosecutors in Washington announced federal criminal charges against Rukstales and a dozen other people on Friday.

Rukstales, 52, had been the president and CEO of Cogensia. But the Schaumburg-based data-driven marketing company announced it “terminated” him hours after prosecutors said Rukstales illegally entered the Capitol with the violent mob, refused to heed police orders to leave and disrupted Congress as lawmakers were about to ratify Democrat Joe Biden’s defeat of Trump.

Ives told WBEZ she became aware of the contributions from Rukstales to her congressional campaign only on Saturday morning.

“I do not recall meeting him specifically and had no idea of his specific donation amounts to my campaign,” she said in a text message. “I am speaking with my compliance team to return the contributions.”

She added, “He unfortunately made a terrible choice and is facing the consequences of his actions.”

Ives, who’s from Wheaton, narrowly lost in November to U.S. Rep. Sean Casten, D-Ill., in a district that represents parts of the west and northwest suburbs. She is a former state representative and in 2018 she lost a bid for the GOP gubernatorial nomination.

Records show Rukstales also has contributed thousands of dollars in the last couple years to other Republican candidates and political committees, including:

  • President Donald Trump and groups supporting him, including the Trump Make American Great Again Committee and the Trump Victory political action committee.

  • The Republican National Committee.

  • House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California.

  • Mark Curran, the former Lake County sheriff who lost in November to U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.

Aides for Trump, McCarthy and the RNC did not return messages Saturday asking if they would return the contributions from Rukstales.

On Sunday, Curran said he had “never heard of” Rukstales until after he was charged and had no money left in the accounts from his losing Senate campaign.

“I am going to guess 90% of my donors I never heard of before,” Curran said in an email to WBEZ. “I don’t know this guy or why he gave me money … I never spoke to him or met him. I condemn going into the Capital [sic].”

Rukstales could not be reached. He has not said anything publicly since Thursday, when he issued a statement condemning the violence and expressing regret for entering the Capitol with the pro-Trump mob that overwhelmed the building’s defenses.

The unprecedented attack left five people dead, including a police officer, and forced Congress to shut down for several hours.

Dan Mihalopoulos is an investigative reporter on WBEZ’s Government & Politics Team.