Illinois’ political leaders have far more money in their war chests than leaders of any other state.
Combine the total funds raised from House Speaker Michael Madigan, Senate President John Cullerton, and minority leaders Bill Brady and Jim Durkin and their $12 million accounts for nearly a third of all political campaign funds held by state leaders nationwide. Three of the four Illinois leaders are running unopposed.
The numbers were run by the nonprofit Center for Public Integrity.
Liz Essley Whyte, reporter for the Center for Public Integrity, said some states have leaders running for higher office, thus they need more money, but they still all have less than Illinois’ leaders.
“Illinois politicians really blow these other guys out of the water,” she said.
Much of the money for other state races is from Illinois’ wealthy candidates for governor, Republican Bruce Rauner and Democrat J.B. Pritzker in attempts to work with a more friendly General Assembly when either is elected.
Essley Whyte said the extra cash helps the leaders not just in an election, but during session.
“They will use the money as a kind of carrot and stick to keep their party members in line when big votes are coming up,” she said.
Illinois allows for unlimited contributions once a cap of $100,000 has been broken for non-statewide races.
Madigan has raised more money over the last 22 years than any other legislative leader in the country, even more than congressional leaders.
Since 1996, Madigan has raised $42.7 million, more than any other active leader. This includes Congressional leaders Paul Ryan, Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell during their time in legislative leadership posts.
“The fact that he can rake in more than $2.5 million, even in a year when he’s unopposed, says a lot about people and how they see him as an agenda setter in the state of Illinois,” Essley White said.
Madigan’s campaign fund, Friends of Michael J. Madigan, received a $767,800 contribution from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31 Monday, bringing his total for the cycle to more than $3.4 million.
Madigan also benefits from more years doing it, having been the House Speaker for all but two years since 1983. He’s also the chairman of Illinois’ Democratic Party.