In its first two months of existence, Illinoisans for Growth and Opportunity— Illinois GO for short — collected $9 million, from just six households.
That was in spring 2015, as Governor Rauner was preparing for what became a year-long budget standoff with democratic lawmakers .
The group aimed to support democrats who would “take tough votes”— that is, against their party.
“The idea was, you would have a pot of money to back the democrats that were going against the democratic leadership,” says Kent Redfield, a political scientist, retired from the University of Illinois at Springfield, who follows campaign finance issues closely.
However, “Only one democrat really aligned himself with the governor, and his name was Ken Dunkin ,” says Scott Kennedy, who runs the website Illinois Election Data and was the first to report the closure of Illinois GO.
The group returned its remaining funds to donors last week, just ahead of filing deadlines for campaign-finance disclosures.
Dan Weissmann is a WBEZ reporter. Follow him @danweissmann.