Topinka left $1 million in campaign fund
Close to $1 million is still sitting in the late Judy Baar Topinka's campaign fund, leaving the fund's officers to decide what to do with it.
At the beginning of the year, the committee had $993,834.49 on hand, and no plans for the money have been made public. An elections attorney said the top staff of the campaign fund can decide to donate it to other campaigns, give it to charity or return it to donors.
Topinka, a Republican, was state comptroller when she died in December.
"There would have been a campaign chair and treasurer to oversee who was authorized to make decisions with the money," Illinois State Board of Elections attorney Ken Menzel said.
Topinka's longtime chief of staff in the comptroller's office, Nancy Kimme, is the campaign fund's chair, according to a filing made in mid-December. Kimme has stayed on under new Republican Illinois comptroller Leslie Munger.
The campaign treasurer is Bradley Burnett. Topinka spokesman Brad Hahn did not respond to a request for comment.
After a candidate leaves office, there are a few places the leftover money can go. Candidates can return money to donors, or donate the money to a charity. They can also donate the money to other candidates, lawmakers and political committees.
In cases that are becoming more rare, candidates can keep money raised before a state law was changed in 1998.
Former Gov. Pat Quinn left office with $697,253 in his campaign fund. Quinn told The Associated Press he will continue working on issues he finds important, but from an activist level. He's mentioned that veterans' rights is an issue he believes in.
Candidates also can put the leftover money toward a new campaign.
Former Rep. Sandra Pihos, a Glen Ellyn Republican, is putting a portion of her $11,557 in leftover campaign money toward her run for a spot on College of DuPage's board of trustees.
Pihos fell to Peter Breen, a Lombard Republican, in the primary election, She filed to run for trustee at the end of November. Now, she is in the race for one of three College of DuPage trustee seats in the April 7 election.
"Given my background in education and coming from Springfield, I think this is a good fit for me," Pihos said.
Former Rep. Tom Cross, an Oswego Republican, has $30,511 left in a fund he used to run for the Illinois House and nearly $41,000 left over from his run for state treasurer.
Retired Rep. Tim Schmitz, a Batavia Republican, left office with $58,169 in campaign money.
There are no restrictions on how long a campaign fund can remain active as long as the candidate files quarterly reports about their money.
Former Gov. Jim Edgar, who left office in 1999, still has more than $456,000 in campaign money. In the primary race for governor, Edgar gave $25,000 to Kirk Dillard, a Hinsdale Republican.
Edgar has also donated money to Republican Mike Bost in his run for Congress and has used money in the last three months of 2014 to purchase flowers and donate to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library.