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|Contribution Caps Not a Black-and-White Issue|
|Commentary/Politics - Illinois Politics|
|Written by Rich Miller|
|Sunday, 10 May 2009 06:48|
Editorial writers, crusading columnists, and reformers say it all the time: Illinois is one of only a small handful of states that does not regulate campaign contributions.
That's technically true, but you might be surprised at how little some other states actually regulate those contributions.
Governor Pat Quinn's independent reform commission has recommended that Illinois adopt the same basic contribution limits for individuals and political action committees as the federal government. But if contribution limits are supposed to get the influence of money out of politics, they've failed miserably in Washington, DC, where money has become an obsession and that obsession rules all.
According to a March analysis by the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), some states have few campaign-contribution restrictions. Still others have much more stringent caps than proposed by the governor's reform commission.
For instance, neighboring Iowa has no limit on individual contributions to candidates and doesn't cap state-party contributions, political-action-committee (PAC) contributions, or labor-union contributions to candidates. However, Iowa does prohibit direct contributions by corporations. Here is a rundown of some other states:
As you can plainly see, the range of limits is far broader than we are ever told. This issue is not as black and white as it's usually portrayed. I actually favor contribution caps, but they should either be extremely low with lots of safeguards (unlike Florida) to really stamp out the money, or high enough that every check doesn't become an obsession. Illinois Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno has proposed a $10,000 cap on individuals and PACs. That seems reasonable to me.
Rich Miller also publishes Capitol Fax (a daily political newsletter) and TheCapitolFaxBlog.com.
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