Ward Room Campaign Round-Up: Foxx Found Guilty of Violating Campaign Finance Law

This is the fourth edition of Ward Room's Campaign Round-Up, a weekly post dedicated to keeping voters informed about the state and county's upcoming 2016 elections. Check the Ward Room blog for continued coverage every Wednesday.

Cook County State’s Attorney Race

The Illinois State Board of Elections ruled unanimously Wednesday that Kim Foxx violated campaign finance law by not disclosing a $25,000 donation from Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.

Foxx previously served as Preckwinkle's chief of staff.

After the expenditure, Foxx allegedly did not form a commitee with the board of elections. Foxx is also accused of continuing to cash county paychecks without filing legally-required paperwork to register her campaign committee. 

"We disagree with the ruling because it is clear Kim Foxx was not a candidate at the time of the poll," Foxx spokesman Robert Foley told the Chicago Sun-Times.

The Foxx campaign has since complied with the board's order to amend its disclosure filings to include Preckwinkle's contribution. She could still be fined up to $62,500.

Foxx also faces three potential fines for violating the state laws dealing with transparency in political donations and spending.

Incumbent Anita Alvarez chastised Foxx over the ruling.

“Cook County political insider Kim Foxx simply cannot be trusted to uphold the laws of the State of Illinois because she has demonstrated that she cannot follow them," Alvarez said in a statement. "She has refused to accept responsibility after being found to have broken the law--and refused to tell the voters the simple truth about her campaign and her record."

Alvarez's campaign donations have also come under scrutiny amid reports that she has received campaign donations from 59 workers in her office.

Alvarez’s opponents in the Democratic primary, Kim Foxx and Donna More, both said they would not accept donations from their workers if they are elected.

None of Foxx’s listed donors are employees in the state’s attorney’s office. This does not include donors who gave less than $150.

None of More’s listed donors are state’s attorney’s office employees, although More claims she knows of one who has given less than $150.

Alvarez has received 38 donations from 33 employees in the last three months totaling $9,800.

In the third quarter of 2015, Alvarez received 69 donations from 42 state’s attorney’s office employees totaling more than $14,000.

Alvarez, Foxx and More will face off in the March 15 Democratic primary.

Christopher Pfannkuche will run uncontested on the Republican ballot.

Early Voting has begun in Illinois. Primary elections will be held March 15, general elections will be held Nov. 8.

Illinois Senate Race

The Democratic candidates for Mark Kirk’s Illinois Senate seat faced off at a Sun-Times editorial board endorsement session Tuesday.

Andrea Zopp, who worked in the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office for 13 years, attacked Rep. Tammy Duckworth’s record on gun control during her time in Congress.

Zopp noted that Congress has not passed any major gun legislation during Duckworth’s time in office.

Duckworth reacted, dispelling those claims.

“I would have to say that she is misrepresenting the situation,” Duckworth said. “The bottom line is there are a lot of bills in Congress and many of them have no chance because they’re completely partisan. I have to really focus my work on bipartisan legislation that has a chance of passing.”

Zopp also defended the closing of schools during her time as a CPS board member.

“CPS was not delivering the education that every student deserved,” Zopp said.

Zopp worked under former CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett who was indicted for receiving kickbacks for contracts. Byrd-Bennett pleaded guilty to these charges last year and received 7 1/2 years in prison.

“It so happened that she was a criminal and engaging in criminal conduct from the day she walked in the door,” Zopp said.

Zopp’s career serving as an executive at Sears was also called into question. Reports claim 28,000 people were laid off during her tenure. Zopp denied these claims.

“It was’t thousands- and I don’t remember the exact number but it doesn’t matter,” Zopp said. “As part of that merger [with K-Mart], as in many others, we had to lay off some individuals. What I did as the general counsel was work to make sure that those individuals got the benefits that they were entitled to, and that we minimized the impact of that merger.”

Rep. Napoleon Harris, a former Northwestern standout and NFL star, discussed the process of passing “Rocky’s Law.” The law requires high school districts in Illinois to pay catastrophic injury insurance for college athletes. The law is named after Rocky Clark who was paralyzed playing football.

“I worked across the aisle with state Sen. [Dave] Syverson, a Republican senator from Rockford, who really let me know, I was just trying to do it, and he let me know and said ‘You can’t do it like that. These are some concerns that we have on the other side of the aisle,’” Harris said. “He brought it to my attention. We worked on it in a bipartisan fashion and got the bill passed.”

Duckworth also addressed the need for bipartisan compromise.

“If I can work in a bipartisan way with Peter Roskam to go after waste in Social Security, if I can work with Republicans in a Republican-controlled House to pass a spending reform in the Department of Defense, that’s how we’re going to get the funds to pay for things that I feel so passionately about, like education and saving Medicare and Social Security,” Duckworth said.

Duckworth used the endorsement session to focus on incumbent Mark Kirk, singling out the senator for “remaining silent” on the U.S. Supreme Court nomination that has been highly publicized in the wake of Justice Antonin Scalia’s death.

“Senator Mark Kirk must immediately level with the people of Illinois, and let us know whether he supports the Constitution,” Duckworth said in a statement this week. “Or if he’ll be a rubber stamp for Mitch McConnell’s obstructionist and unconstitutional gambit.”

Kirk responded to Duckworth's statement but didn’t make his position on the matter known.

“The political debate erupting about prospective nominees to fill the vacancy is unseemly,” Kirk said. “Let us take the time to honor his life before the inevitable debate erupts.”

Zopp, Duckworth and Harris will face-off in the Democratic primary March 15.

Kirk will face Oswego businessman James Marter in the March 15 Republican primary. Veteran’s party candidate Chris Aguayo will be included on the ticket for the general election.

The general election is slated for November 8.

8th Congressional District Race

A poll of 400 likely Democratic voters conducted by GBA Strategies shows former Illinois Deputy Treasurer Raja Krishnamoorthi leading state Sen. Mike Noland and Villa Park Mayor Deb Bullwinkle in the race for Tammy Duckworth’s soon-to-be-vacated U.S. House seat.

According to the poll, which was conducted Feb 9-11, Krishnamoorthi received the support of 41 percent of voters with Noland receiving 27 percent and Bullwinkle garnering 5 percent. Twenty-six percent of respondents remained undecided.

A previous Public Policy Polling poll showed Noland leading Krishnamoorthi and Bullwinkel.

According to that poll, Noland received 22 percent of votes, Krishnamoorthi received 17 percent and Deb Bullwinkel received 11 percent. Fifty percent of voters in that poll were undecided.

Krishnamoorthi also received an endorsement from the Daily Herald.

“Krishnamoorthi brings to this race experience that is broad and deep, both in public service and in the business world,” the paper wrote.

Krishnamoorthi, Noland and Bullwinkle will face off in the March 15 Democratic primary.

The Republican ticket includes Dupage County Commissioner and former mayor of Elmhurst Pete DiCianni.

High school teacher Bill Fraser, an Independent, will appear on the general ballot in November.

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