Sunday, October 22, 2006

Power Surge (Updated)

Cross posted from ICPR’s blog, The Race is On :

As of 8 am this morning, electric companies fighting legislation to freeze rates have given at least $201K to legislators’ PACs since July 1, on top of the $1.3 million they gave between January 1, 2005 and June 30, 2006. These figures may increase as additional legislators, including the Four Tops, file their Pre-Election reports between now and tomorrow night. And, electric company giving will likely increase further through Election Day.

Senate President Emil Jones and Senate Republican Leader Frank Watson are the top two recipients, at $41,200 and $23,000 respectively. This is consistent with the earlier identified pattern of giving heavily to the upper chamber, which is typically done with an eye to killing legislation.

Two-thirds of the giving to President Jones since July 1 came in the last three weeks, after House Speaker Michael Madigan called for a special session to consider a rate freeze. Likewise, 60% of giving to Leader Watson came after the Special Session call. House Republican Leader Tom Cross got 44 % of his $17,200 after the call; significantly, Speaker Madigan’s PAC received at least $20,000 before the call, but not a dime since. The Democratic Party of Illinois, which he chairs, currently shows no electric receipts since July 1.

Top industry donors to legislators include Exelon and subsidiaries at $98K, Ameren at $54K, Dynegy at $20K, and Midwest Generation at $14K. While some of the funds come from employees, much of this giving would be illegal in other states and at the federal level, where direct corporate contributions are banned.

Other recent recipients of electric company giving include trade associations. The Illinois Chamber of Commerce reported receiving $20,000, while the Illinois Merchants PAC, the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, and the Illinois Manufacturers each report $10,000. As with giving to Senate Leaders, this non-candidate giving is consistent with an effort to mute calls for modifying the 22% - 55% rate hikes due in January.

Check back to ICPR’s website later this week for fundraising updates in the hot statewide, legislative, judicial, and Cook County races.


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