As the race heats up to replace Jesse Jackson Jr. in the 2nd District, candidate Robin Kelly shot back Monday about accusations that she has ties to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg or his super PAC that endorsed her.
"It's ridiculous," Kelly said. "I don't know him. He doesn't know me. I have not been in touch with him. You can't even legally be in touch with them. So it's untrue, that's all I can tell you."
Rival Debbie Halvorson begs to differ. She believes Kelly knew about Bloomberg's reportedly $2 million worth of attack ads targeting Halvorson and her support of the National Rifle Association.
"The spirit and integrity of this particular electoral process has now been compromised due to these new super PAC ads," Halvorson said Monday, calling for Kelly's campaign to be held accountable "for violating FEC rules with regards to super PACs."
Kelly called the accusation a "desperate move" by Halvorson and said "it's absolutely ridiculous and it's untrue" that she knew about the ads.
Halvorson also says Sen. Toi Hutchinson, who withdrew Sunday and endorsed Kelly, was bullied out of the race by the super PAC. The timing, she said, conveniently came a week after early voting began.
"This means anyone who voted for Toi Hutchinson now has no ability to recast their vote," Halvorson said.
Candidate Anthony Beale said Monday he too thinks Bloomberg "bought a candidate."
"We are letting a New York billionaire and the mayor of New York City dictate the terms and possibly the outcome of the 2nd District special election," Beale said in a statement. "Voters deserve better. If we let the Mayor of New York decide the next congressman from Illinois, then we really are the 2nd City and the 2nd District."
Kelly said there was no back-room deal with Hutchinson to drop out and that she was as surprised as everyone else.
"She called me," Kelly said. "We talked on the phone and she told me she was dropping out and she was going to support me and I told her I appreciated her support. No back-room deals."
The move comes about a week before the Feb. 26 special election. The general election is scheduled for April 9.