State budget blame game spawns new political mailers
Yet another round of advertising has brought the Springfield budget impasse to suburban mailboxes as a conservative group looks to tie local Democrats to House Speaker Michael Madigan.
The fliers from Illinois Policy Action were sent to the districts of about 20 lawmakers across Illinois including the suburbs, said its CEO John Tillman.
The mailers show a cartoon version of the lawmaker and Madigan dressed as a king sitting in a throne.
They follow a TV ad by Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner with a similar message as lawmakers and Rauner are deadlocked over a state budget, but Tillman said the two campaigns aren't coordinated.
State Rep. Michelle Mussman, a Schaumburg Democrat and target of one of the mailers, released a statement Tuesday to call the phone number listed on the mailers "fake."
"If anyone wants to discuss my efforts to provide property tax relief and increase funding for our schools, I encourage residents to contact me directly to discuss these issues, not through a suspicious phone number from an outside special interest group," she said in the statement.
Dialing the number puts the caller through to Mussman's office but allows Illinois Policy Action to track how many people responded to the mailer by making the call. That lets the group track its effectiveness, Tillman said.
Tillman said Rauner won big in the suburbs in the 2014 election, showing they back him.
"Her voters want her to side with Rauner," he said.
Madigan and other Democrats have called campaign-style advertising during a budget negotiation unproductive. Mussman says she holds public meetings and goes door-to-door to talk to constituents.
"This group is trying to mislead local residents and distract them from the real issues," Mussman said.
Democrats have sent mailers targeted at Republicans in recent weeks about property taxes, one of Rauner's top priorities as he continues to ask for lawmakers to approve his agenda.
Lawmakers and Rauner are a week into their new budget year without a spending plan in place, a situation that has led unions and statewide officials of both parties to go to court over who can get paid and who can't until the gridlock is broken.
Democrats could try this week to send Rauner a one-month stopgap plan, but he's opposed it.