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updated: 10/26/2010 4:55 PM

54th Dist. candidates weigh in on campaign finance caps

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  • Tom Morrison

    Tom Morrison

  • Matt Flamm

    Matt Flamm


From their views on social issues to ideas on how to tackle the budget deficit, 54th District House race candidates Tom Morrison and Matt Flamm don't see eye to-eye on much.

But one big exception is their position on campaign finance caps, which both say are essentially worthless without strong disclosure laws behind them.

Morrison, a Republican from Palatine, said he supports capping donations candidates receive from legislative leaders and political parties, but thinks the more important issue is "sunshine on the disclosure process."

He believes even with some limits going into effect next year, loopholes will be exploited. For example, he said, political action committees won't be stymied by a $50,000 cap per candidate. Some will simply form a new PAC to donate more.

"The only thing that's really going to change Springfield is who we elect to public office," Morrison said.

Flamm, a Democrat from Palatine, said he's pleased some limits will be in place because "it's absurd that right now you can get unlimited contributions."

But he wants to wait a year or two to revisit the new law and see whether the levels should be more or less restrictive, especially since the U.S. Supreme Court's January decision allowing corporations to spend freely on political ads.

"To put limits on some people but not others creates an unfair playing field," Flamm said.

He said he takes less issue with donations by political parties, as long as people can easily see where the money came from and where it's going.

"The Democratic or Republican Party are going to want to push certain races, and that's OK," Flamm said.

The political parties haven't shown any financial interest in the 54th District race.

Instead, reports filed with the Illinois State Board of Elections show both candidates have relied on individuals and a number of PACs to finance their campaigns.

Educator groups stepped up their support for Flamm between July 1 through Oct. 3. Among them was the Illinois Political Action Committee for Education, which contributed $30,000 to his campaign.

He also received $3,500 from the West Suburban Teachers Union Local 571 in Westmont; $8,000 from the Cook County College Teachers Union COPE; $3,000 from the Illinois Federation of Teachers COPE; and $1,000 from the NW Suburban Teachers Union in Schaumburg.

Over the same time period, Morrison received support from several business and medical PACs. The biggest was a $1,250 donation from the Illinois Chamber PAC.

All together, Flamm raised $60,785 from July 1 to Oct. 3, including $49,500 from political committees. He started the period with $33,557 cash on-hand. Morrison raised $20,550, including $6,450 from political committees. He started the period with $47,449.

On Nov. 1, candidates must report contributions received between Oct. 4 and the election. Amounts greater than $500 must be filed within two business days.

Morrison and Flamm are seeking the 54th District seat that represents portions of Palatine, Hoffman Estates, Rolling Meadows, Barrington and Inverness.