Foster, Senger debate political advertising

  • Democratic U.S. Rep. Bill Foster and Republican State Rep. Darlene Senger are candidates for 11th Congressional District.

    Democratic U.S. Rep. Bill Foster and Republican State Rep. Darlene Senger are candidates for 11th Congressional District.

Updated 10/29/2014 5:56 PM

The 11th Congressional District race hasn't been littered with attack ads, but both candidates have made it a point to raise questions about the political advertising put out by their opponent.

Early in the campaign, Democratic U.S. Rep. Bill Foster of Naperville sent out a mailer that said his top priority is "to support policies that strengthen the middle class and bring good jobs to our region."


It said his plan to do that includes tax cuts for the middle class and not millionaires -- a statement his challenger, Republican State Rep. Darlene Senger, took issue with.

"He's actually a multimillionaire that's paying less than the middle-class rate," she said during a Daily Herald endorsement interview. "And then it says this mailing was prepared and published by and mailed at taxpayer expense. Here you're trying to say, 'I'm middle class, I'm all for helping you out and your tax dollar, but you're paying for this.'"

In addition, Senger, also of Naperville, said Foster didn't pay any taxes in 2011 -- a charge that also surfaced when he challenged Republican Judy Biggert in 2012.

"It's frustrating," she said. "Maybe that's why he's not at the table working on some of the economic reforms that have to get done."

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Foster was asked to respond to the reports that he isn't paying all his taxes during a televised debate on ABC 7.

"My wife and I pay our taxes every single year," he said. "The year in question, it was a year when I was running for re-election, I had no salary and of course, on zero salary you pay no income taxes, which my opponent thought was a useful issue to make."

The ABC 7 moderators then asked Senger why she made a point of it.

"How does one go out to say, 'My answer for middle class is for millionaires to pay taxes when I'm not'?" she responded.

Senger was also asked if she thought voters should approve a millionaire tax referendum that will appear on the state ballot. She said voters should be more concerned about creating jobs and improving the economy.

"I'm for looking at closing loopholes, I'm for doing tax reforms that will finally get this place moving forward, but the bottom line is we're talking rhetoric and we're not getting results," she said.


The candidates had a chance to ask each other a question during the ABC debate, too. Foster used the opportunity to question Senger about her television ads that criticize his vote on a budget crafted by Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.

Foster said he voted no because the budget would have provided tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires, cut Medicare benefits for seniors and increased taxes on the middle class by about $2,000 a year.

He then asked Senger if she would vote for the Ryan budget.

"When you start something out, you've got to start from somewhere," she said. "And what the Ryan budget is doing is they're saying here's some ideas and concepts we could bring to the table to once and for all balance this budget and move this economy forward, which you have not done."

"It is a start," she said. "There's components of it that everybody knows already that aren't workable, but let's take what we've learned so far and get this place going."

But Foster said he would like a yes or no answer.

"You're running attack ads against my vote against the Ryan budget," he said. "Presumably that means you would vote for it? Or are you attacking me for something that you would vote against?"

Senger avoided giving a clear answer.

"I'm saying that you're not willing to sit at the table and get anything done and this is a beginning to start talking about how we can move the economy going forward," she said.

The 11th District covers parts of Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kendall and Will counties, including Aurora, Naperville and Bolingbrook. The election is Nov. 4.

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