Illinois' Campaign Spending Among Most in U.S.

Dec 5, 2016

Exactly how much money did candidates running for office during the November general election spend?

Recent data from the National Institute on Money in State Politics shows that just those trying to win state House and Senate seats raised more than $95 million this election cycle. Illinois ranks second nationally in money raised for state legislative races.

Sarah Brune, executive director for the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform, says during a forum next month, her group will discuss Illinois campaign spending and limits from a local and national perspective, because the money being tossed around is out of control.
"It's really mind blowing, I think, for somebody who is working hard just to make ends meet. I think it's hard for people to reconcile the fact that almost $100 million was raised on politics, when there are issues that are affecting people's daily lives that didn't get talked about in this election."

She says they're pushing for more regulation and transparency.
"We've also advocated for any politically active group that's giving large donations, they need to register as a political committee and disclose their donors, and we're going to be pursuing that cause to really try to make people know who's giving money to try to affect elections for public office in their area."

Illinois is the only state that has a legal provision allowing limits to be lifted by candidate self-funding or spending from super PACs.

Brune says this year, more than a third of contested November state House and Senate races in Illinois had contribution limits removed due to candidate self-funding or super PAC spending.

California sits at the top of the list with $118.9 million raised, but also has a population three times larger than Illinois, and saw a higher number of contested races in the 2016 general election.