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Ever have one of those arguments with Texans or New Jerseyans over which state is the most crooked? Here's more fodder: the indispensable Illinois Campaign for Political Reform finds that Gov. Rod Blagojevich has collected $1.1 million from out-of-state donors, while Republican challenger Judy Baar Topinka has $195,000.
Much of Blago's out-of-state money comes from places--California, Wisconsin, Ohio, even Indiana--where the donations would be illegal if made within state lines:
"Wisconsin accounted for $92K in giving, including $39K from Bulk Petroleum, $25K from Edison Liquors (a Wirtz company), and $20K from Miller Brewing. All of that giving would be illegal under Wisconsin law, which bars direct contributions from corporations to candidates."
ICPR's David Morrison concludes, "It’s perfectly legal for them to give as much here as they want to, since our laws allow that. Why they would want to give here is, of course, another matter."
The nonpartisan ICPR would like Illinois to enact "fair, sensible contribution limits."
The Cato Institute would oppose such limits on principle, regardless of the evidence. But Cato's Ed Crane makes an interesting point regarding the recent Connecticut primary--which upstart Ned Lamont won, Crane argues, only because he can bankroll himself:
Under current law, he writes, "candidates have rights the rest of us don’t have. Apparently, they can’t be corrupted by their own money, so there are no limits on what they can spend on their own campaigns. More than 60 percent of Ned’s campaign expenditures came from Ned. Without Ned, Ned loses. In fact, no political observer thought any candidate dependent on [the current federal] $2,000 contribution limit had any kind of chance of ousting Lieberman."
And for those who remember 38 years back:
"This antiwar election is directly analogous to my late friend Gene McCarthy’s race for the presidency in 1968. Gene used six-figure contributions from wealthy liberals like Stewart Mott who opposed the war in Vietnam to fund a campaign that ousted a sitting president from his own party. Gene often said that had the ’74 amendments to the FECA been in place in ’68 [i.e. contribution limits], he would not have run."
Who wins this argument? Is it OK for Illinois to be for sale in order to allow for the rare upsurge to be funded by wealthy noncandidates?