Super PAC accusation in 8th District
Tammy Duckworth's campaign Friday accused her 8th Congressional District Democratic rival, Raja Krishnamoorthi, of being untrue to his stance against Super PACs by accepting campaign assistance from one called Suburban Voters for Choice.
Krishamoorthi's camp characterized the accusation as "a flat-out lie," saying that while the candidate is aware of the Super PAC's existence, he is not controlling or directing it.
Both candidates claim to have offered the other a pledge against the use of Super PAC money. And both claim his or her own version of the pledge was rejected by the other. No pledge was ever signed by either candidate.
Duckworth's campaign workers said Chicago cable stations this week got phone inquiries for advertising from Suburban Voters for Choice, a Super PAC which names among its officials two people who worked for Krishnamoorthi's 2010 campaign for Illinois comptroller.
One of those people, PAC treasurer Mike Vainisi, confirmed Krishnamoorthi is not controlling the Super PAC. Vainisi said he is running the PAC while a law student in California.
He said he understands why Super PACs generally have a bad reputation as they can be a way for people to anonymously throw dirt. But Vainisi said his group is made up of family, friends and supporters of Krishnamoorthi who want to run only positive ads.
"It's an attempt to level the playing field in that campaign," Vainisi said. "Tammy Duckworth has a lot of insider money."
Duckworth's deputy campaign manager, Kaitlin Fahey, said no matter how "positive" their message, the secretive nature of Super PACs and their ability to wield greater influence than the normal individual in a political campaign is what makes them bad under any circumstances.
She also questioned Krishnamoorthi's professed inability to control his supporters just as she doubted whether people backing Duckworth would not listen to her.
Vainisi said Suburban Voters for Choice's support of Krishnamoorthi will not make him look bad or taint his campaign.
Super PACs are political action committees that can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money.
They are the product of a 5-4 Supreme Court decision in 2010 that the government cannot ban political spending by corporations in elections.
While Super PACs are not allowed to coordinate directly with candidates, they can spend unlimited amounts of money to promote the candidates they back, with fewer restrictions than a candidate's own campaign committee has under federal election law.
During the current election cycle, Duckworth has raised $1.28 million and Krishnamoorthi $1.15 million, according to their pre-primary reports filed with the FEC.
Duckworth raised $335,449 in contributions between Jan. 1 and Feb. 29. Of that, $292,949 were from individuals and $42,400 from PACs. She has $255,472 in cash on hand.
Krishnamoorthi raised $139,642 during the first two months of the year. He received $133,142 of that from individuals and $6,500 from PACs. He has $261,691 in cash on hand.