Let’s hear it for Illinois!

Incoming Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner campaigned as a reformer of the state’s often corrupt politics – but, watchdog groups say activities surrounding his inauguration Monday are among the priciest of any incoming governor and take advantage of a loophole in campaign finance that allows wealthy special interests to gain access to those who hold political power…

Rauner, a Republican, is allowing corporate donors to kick in as much as $100,000 for inauguration events, and letting individuals spend up to $25,000.

He is hardly alone. Governor Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania, a Democrat, will accept up to $50,000 per donor. Corporate sponsorship packages for inaugural events by Scott Walker of Wisconsin and Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas, both Republicans, cost $30,000 and $25,000 respectively…

The price tag for gubernatorial inaugurations is dwarfed by presidential celebrations. President Barack Obama did not allow corporate donors for his first inauguration, though just 211 individuals covered 80 percent of the $35.3 million price tag. For his second inauguration, Obama accepted unlimited corporate donations.

Inauguration events are essentially private parties that are considered non-partisan and are funded by special committees. Under federal and state campaign laws, the inauguration committees are not required to disclose spending or donor names because the inauguration exists outside the election process. All money raised for the events is meant to cover expenses, with surpluses typically given to charity.

In recent years, the events have transformed from honorary banquets to ticketed, star-studded concerts and lavish balls. Donors gain access to events and also can get their names splashed in programs and across other marketing materials.

The process has created the perception that these are veiled opportunities for lobbyists and other corporate interests to curry favor with lawmakers…

According to the Illinois Observer, Rauner and his wife are also hosting a private “business roundtable and reception” in Chicago this month that costs $25,000 per couple for both events.

Rauner Spokesman Mike Schrimpf says donors will be disclosed but would not say when. He also would not say where any surplus money would go.

Sooner or later, I am confident that reality will intrude into the befuddled lives of Americans. Economic and social practices affecting all of us can’t be denied by beer commercials and patriotic music forever. We are, after all, a species capable of learning from our mistakes.

I just hope it doesn’t take as long as the discovery that the Earth is round.

  1. NewFormatSux says:

    That is an improvement over previous Illinois governors. Let’s see if this one avoids jail time. And if he does go to jail, whether the Republicans will manage to nominate for governor the next time someone with a different last name.

    • Better READ than BLEW! says:

      If you’re talking about Governor Rod Blagojevich (I call Mister Gobbledeegook), he was a DEMOCRAT! Let’s not forget how he (Gobbledeegook) tried to SELL Barack Obama’s seat in the Illinois legislature to the highest bidder after Mr. Obama was elected President.

      … Let’s also not forget how president Zero — also a lawyer — said and did almost nothing about this Illinois scandal too!

      So the money hungry bastards don’t necessarily always fall to the right — they fall both ways since they are, after all, mostly LAWYERS! It’s only unfortunate that the (illegal) slush money is examined more closely by the press when it’s seen exchanging hands amongst Republicans. (And that may be because of the ghost of Al Capone who surrounded himself with lawyers just before they threw him in jail — also a former Chicago resident.)

  2. Phydeau says:

    This is a pretty clear situation. Money in politics. Republicans have consistently been in favor of unlimited money in politics. Democrats have been mostly against it. But they play the money game because in this environment if they don’t, they lose.

    You want unlimited money in politics, vote for Republicans.

    • Better READ than BLEW! says:

      Clearly, you have your head up your “ass”!

      POLITICIANS and money are like flies on shit! The problem is, these “flies” don’t seem to realize that we can’t keep giving them OUR shit!

      … Try listening a little more closely. I realize what these politicians say and do are often disconnected, but Republicans — NOT DEMOCRATS — keep saying we need serious reformation wherever MONEY is concerned.

    • NewFormatSux says:

      Billionaire Democrats gave more money than Republicans. The Democrats only support restricting money where the Republicans have an advantage. How much of the Democratic apparatus is transparent?

    • Phydeau says:

      You want to believe Democrats give more money than Republicans, fine… So you’ll be telling your elected representatives to restrict money in politics, right? Because of those evil Democrats corrupting the process? Put your money where your mouth hole is, wingnuts.

      • NewFormatSux says:

        No, because I know that Democrats will cheat and still have more money while restricting the Republicans.
        Plus the real goal is bipartisan empowering of the government. John McCain’I would ban negative ads if I could.’ They don’t want you to be able to criticize the government. Citizens United turned when in response to a question, the government lawyer said they have the power to ban books.

        • Phydeau says:

          The Fox is strong with this one. 🙄

          • NewFormatSux says:

            Justice Alito initially asked: “Do you think the Constitution required Congress to draw the line where it did, limiting [the “electioneering communications” ban] to broadcast and cable and so forth? What’s your answer to Mr. Olson’s point that there isn’t any constitutional difference between the distribution of this movie on video [on] demand and providing access on the Internet, providing DVDs, either through a commercial service or maybe in a public library, providing the same thing in a book? Would the Constitution permit the restriction of all of those as well?”

            With those inquiries, the trap was set — and the Deputy Solicitor General took the bait.

            Stewart plunged all the way in; he saw the issue as black and white: either the government had the power or it didn’t — and he was representing the government, so, of course, it did. Thus, in answering the questions, the Deputy Solicitor General painted with a broad brush.

            “I think the Constitution would have permitted Congress to apply the electioneering communication[s] restrictions … to additional media as well,” Stewart responded.

            Justice Alito couldn’t believe that answer.

            “That’s pretty incredible,” Justice Alito immediately followed up. “You think that if a book was published, a campaign biography that was the functional equivalent of express advocacy, that could be banned.”

            Stewart still didn’t see how big a hole he was digging for himself, and that he was seriously in jeopardy of losing his case.

            Justice Alito continued to follow-up. “Well, most publishers are corporations,” he noted. “And a publisher that is a corporation could be prohibited from selling a book?”

            Stewart tried to evade the question by explaining there is a mainstream media exemption to the federal campaign finance laws, but Justice Alito was not concerned about what the government would permit through its own legislative grace.

            “I’m not asking what the statute says,” Justice Alito stated, going on to ask, “The government’s position is that the First Amendment allows the banning of a book if it’s published by a corporation?”

            Stewart tried another evasion, this time based on the First Amendment’s freedom of the press clause, but again to no avail because Justice Kennedy now jumped in to change the hypothetical so that it didn’t concern the mainstream media or a publishing giant, but rather “an advocacy organization that had a book.”

            To this, the Deputy Solicitor General was backed against the wall, and did not retreat from his earlier pro-government regulatory position. “[A] corporation could be barred from using its general treasury funds to publish the book and could be required to … raise funds to publish the book using its PAC” with contribution limited by campaign finance law, Stewart insisted.

            Then the Chief Justice chimed in, asking whether that would be true if the book contained only “one use of the candidate’s name”?

            “That’s correct,” Stewart responded a few interchanges later, further explaining, “Yes, [the government’s] position would be that [any] corporation could be required to use PAC funds rather than general treasury funds.”

            “And if they didn’t, you could ban it?” the Chief Justice made crystal clear.

            “If they didn’t, we could prohibit the publication of the book,” Stewart agreed.

            The breadth of the government’s position shocked what seemed like the entirety of the Supreme Court bench, as well as those attending the argument. Even pro-regulation justices, like Justices Breyer and Souter, showed and expressed their frustration.

            “[S]uppose there were a kind of campaign literature or advocacy that either a corporation had to pay for …, it couldn’t pay for it through the PAC, because for some reason … and there’s no other way of getting it to the public — that would raise a Constitutional question, wouldn’t it?” Justice Breyer wondered, insisting that “I guess I would be worried if in fact there was some material that couldn’t get through to the public. I would be very worried.”

            By now, realizing he had dug a hole too deep, the Deputy Solicitor General tried to change the subject to the fact that Citizens United could have used other distribution methods to get the movie into the hands of the public, like posting the video for download from the group’s Web site or for viewing on YouTube. But Justice Alito immediately brought Stewart back to the scope and breadth of what the government was claiming it could regulate.

            “If they had done either of the things you just mentioned, putting it on its Web site or putting it on YouTube,” Justice Alito interjected, “your position would be that the Constitution would permit the prohibition of that during the period prior to the primary or the election?”

            “Yes,” Stewart was eventually forced to answer.

  3. JAK says:

    Why don’t you asshats wake up and stop making excuses for your side,they’re all bought and paid for. Get big money out of politics or we’re all screwed. A lot of special interest groups give money to both sides to insure they get what they want no matter who wins the election,or they wait and roll out the big money after the election.

    • Phydeau says:

      Excellent point JAK, but the Democrats are the ones who have been voting for campaign finance reform, and the Republicans have been the ones who have been voting against it.

      You can’t blame them, really… the political positions they hold are tailored for angry fearful old white guys, a shrinking demographic. They’re getting by on nation-wide gerrymandering and voter suppression. They need the increased campaign spending to remain a viable political party.

      • JAK says:

        Most of that is lip service to the base because they know they’ll never have to vote on any real reform. If there ever was a real bill that did real reform they would all run from it. They’re all bought and paid for,that’s the problem.

        • bobbo, the pragmatic existential evangelical anti-theist says:

          The last “real” reform bill was McCain Feingold and while called bi-lateral reform, it was heavily voted against by the Pukes.

          Silly to call both parties the same when one is clearly worse.

          Grow up and take it issue by issue to see that common result.


          • Phydeau says:

            I gotta hand it to pedrito and NFS, they’re the only wingnuts brave enough (or foolish enough) to try to tackle this issue, the rest of the regulars have run for the hills… even for them, it’s clear who’s for and against money corruption.

          • Phydeau says:

            Wiser I can believe. 😉

          • NewFormatSux says:

            That reform bill was about giving advantages to incumbent politicians. McCain said he would ban negative ads if he could. Under that law, the FEC has the power to ban the publication of books, as long as it is a corporation doing the publishing, and the book says ‘vote for’ or is published within 60 days of an election. Fahrenheit 9/11 ran into problems with this.

  4. Phydeau says:

    He is hardly alone. Governor Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania, a Democrat, will accept up to $50,000 per donor.

    Reading comprehension, pedrito. It’s a good thing.

  5. JudgeHooker says:

    The real “owners” of our government are the fraternities; their ilk are all over both parties.

    • John says:

      Bad seeds on both sides. We would elect better people all around if we could see that within our own parties. But money has influenced politics for a very long time. People are simply clueless to think that will change. Its not been about people for a long time. Look at how Wall Street recovered and Main Street didn’t. Under Democratic control I might add. Yea, Obama stroked its base on how it was going to get Wall Street. Yea, just more words no action. That’s because Wall Street rules and owns politicians on both sides.

  6. JAK says:

    You can start by speaking up a one of these events.


  7. John says:

    The sad part about politics is not only corruption on both sides but the blindness for supporters to not see the issues within as well as the other party. This is why we elect idiots because we always think are crap don’t stink. Well it all stinks to some degree so end the finger pointer that yours stinks more then mine. Because if you guy is the only one in the room and it stinks. Its not the other guy.

  8. deowll says:

    I don’t giver a rats arse how much they spend as long _as it isn’t tax payer money_. To be fair I don’t see why the Dems would either except as a propaganda point.


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