More than half of the current members of Illinois' delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives - plus both of Illinois' U.S. Senators - have what are called "Leadership PACs" - special campaign funds that come with few restrictions on how money can be spent, compared to a congressman's regular campaign fund. These PACs are ostensibly designed for members of congress to raise money for candidates and causes they believe in, or to mount campaigns for leadership positions in their own parties. But critics contend they've become little more than slush funds, which congressmen can use for virtually anything they want, without having to provide any details on exactly how the money was spent.
NBC5 Investigates has found a wide variation among the Illinois-based leadership PACS in terms of how individual congressmen choose to use them. We've found some congressmen who raise and spend large amounts of money on a regular basis; some whose PACs have been inactive for years - and many in between. Any constituent can check out what details do exist for their congressman by examining the Federal Election Commission reports filed by each individual PAC -- pretty much the only documentation that is required.
Below is a list of local members of Congress, along with information on their Leadership PAC (if they have one), and a link to the disclosures on file at the FEC. Once you get to the link, you can look at a particular report by clicking the appropriate .pdf under "display full report" on the right side of the page. All reports essentially have three parts:
1) Summary information covering the total amounts of money that have come in and out during a reporting period.
2) Itemized receipts of all money brought in.
3) Itemized disbursements showing all money paid out during that time period.
Be aware, however: If you want to know more about a particular expense or receipt, it's up to the congressman to choose whether or not he or she wants to tell you. Congress is not subject to the standard rules of the Freedom of Information Act, and NBC5 Investigates' efforts to get information about particular Leadership PAC expenses went virtually unanswered by all but Rep. Mike Quigley of Chicago. His PAC alone supplied supporting documents and invoices to show exactly what his expenses were. A few of the other PACs sent brief notes assuring us that they operated within all rules governing these Leadership PACs - with no further detail -- and the majority did not respond to NBC5's inquiries at all.
Leadership PACs For Local Members of Congress
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL): Prairie PAC
Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL): Lincoln PAC
Rep. Bobby Rush (D-1st): All Power to the People PAC
Rep. Robin Kelly (D-2nd) (does not have a Leadership PAC)
Rep. Daniel Lipinski (D-3rd): Middle Class America PAC
Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-4th): Immigration Reform Fund (formerly called the New Americans Fund)
Rep. Mike Quigley (D-5th): PUCK PAC
Rep. Peter Roskam (R-6th): Republican Operation to Secure and Keep A Majority (ROSKAM PAC)
Rep. Danny Davis (D-7th) (does not have a Leadership PAC)
Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-8th): Perimeter PAC
Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-9th): Progressive Choices PAC
Rep. Brad Schneider (D-10th) (does not have a Leadership PAC)
Rep. Bill Foster (D-11th) (does not have a Leadership PAC)
Rep. William Enyart (D-12th) (does not have a Leadership PAC)
Rep. Rodney Davis (R-13th) (does not have a Leadership PAC)
Rep. Randy Hultgren (R-14th) (does not have a Leadership PAC)
Rep. John Shimkus (R-15th): John S Fund
Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-16th): JET PAC
Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-17th) (does not have a Leadership PAC)
Rep. Aaron Schock (R-18th): GOP Generation Y Fund