Illinois Enacts Sweeping Campaign Finance Reform
On December 9, 2009, Illinois governor Pat Quinn signed SB 1466, enacting comprehensive campaign finance reform for the state. Many of the key provisions of the bill will not take effect until after the 2010 elections, however. The bill:
- Defines of new types of political committies, including candidate committees and political action committees;
- Requires all existing political committees to re-file under the new categories;
- Redefines "independent expenditure" and "electioneering communication" and requires disclosure of independent expenditures in excess of $3,000 in the aggregate in a 12-month period;
- Provides for injunctive relief for electioneering communications made in violation of registration and disclosure requirements;
- Requires all political committees to file quarterly reports;
- Requires reporting within 5 business days when a contribution of $1,000 or more is received, and if such a contribution is received within 30 days of an election, requires 48-hour reporting;
- Increases the penalties for failure to file disclosure reports and late filing of disclosure reports;
- Requires more detailed reporting on contributors, including occupation and employer for persons contributing in excess of $300;
- Decreases the threshold for mandatory electronic filing from $25,000 to $10,000;
- Creates the Campaign Finance Reform Task Force, the purpose of which is to conduct a thorough review of the implementation of campaign finance reform legislation in the State of Illinois, and the feasibility of implementing a mechanism of campaign finance regulation that would subsidize political campaigns in exchange for voluntary adherence to specified expenditure limitations;
- Enacts contribution limits (see below).
For the past decade, Illinois has been one of just six states that did not limit contributions to candidates. Earlier in 2009, New Mexico enacted limits, bringing that number down to five. With the passage of SB 1466 in Illinois, just four states remain without limits on contributions.
The new limits in Illinois will take effect on January 1, 2011. The limits on contributions to candidate committees apply to an election cycle, while those for political party and political action committees apply to a calendar year. The limits are as follows:
Limits on Contributions to Candidates
- $5,000 from an individual
- $10,000 from a corporation, labor union, or association
- $50,000 from a political action committee or another candidate political committee
A candidate committee may accept contributions in unlimited amounts from a political party if the candidate does not seek nomination in a primary election during that election cycle. If the candidate does seek nomination in a primary election, the candidate is subject to the following limits on contributions from a political party during an election cycle:
- $200,000 for statewide candidates
- $125,000 for a candidate political committee established to support a candidate seeking nomination to the Senate, the Supreme Court or Appellate Court in the First Judicial District, or an office elected by all voters in a county with 1,000,000 or more residents
- $75,000 for a candidate political committee established to support a candidate seeking nomination to the House of Representatives, the Supreme Court or Appellate Court for a Judicial District other than the First Judicial District, an office elected by all voters of a county of fewer than 1,000,000 residents, and municipal and county offices in Cook County other than those elected by all voters of Cook County
- $50,000 for a candidate political committee established to support the nomination of a candidate to any other office
A candidate political committee established to elect a candidate to the General Assembly may accept contributions from only one legislative caucus committee. A candidate political committee may not accept contributions from a ballot initiative committee.
Limits on Contributions to Political Party Committees
- $10,000 from any individual
- $20,000 from any corporation, labor organization, or association
- $50,000 from a political action committee
A political party committee may accept contributions in any amount from another political party committee or a candidate political committee, except that during the period beginning on the date candidates may begin circulating petitions for a primary election and ending on the day of the primary election, a political party committee may not accept contributions with an aggregate value over $50,000 from a candidate political committee or political party committee. Transfers between state and federal political party committees are unlimited. Transfers between legislative caucus committees are prohibited.
Limits on Contributions to Political Action Committees
- $10,000 from any individual
- $20,000 from any corporation, labor organization, political party committee, or association
- $50,000 from a political action committee or candidate political committee.
A political action committee may not accept contributions from a ballot initiative committee. A ballot initiative committee may accept contributions in any amount from any source, provided that the committee files the required disclosure documents.
Indexing of Contribution Limits
On January 1 of each odd-numbered year, the State Board of Elections is required adjust the amounts of the contribution limitations established in this Section for inflation as determined by the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers as issued by the United States Department of Labor and rounded to the nearest $100. The Board is required to publish this information on its official website.
For More Information
For more information on campaign finance reform, please contact Wendy Underhill in NCSL's Denver office at 303-364-7700.