61st House District candidates getting big help from political groups
Both candidates for the state House 61st District post have received substantial financial backing from their parties and political action committees representing other interests.
Nearly 88 percent of the campaign cash Republican state Rep. Sheri Jesiel of Winthrop Harbor got between July 1 and Sept. 30 came from such groups, her latest quarterly financial disclosure report to the Illinois State Board of Elections shows. And nearly half her cash for the period came from one committee -- the House Republican Organization.
Across the aisle, more than 93 percent of the money Democratic challenger Joyce Mason of Gurnee received in the quarter came from political groups. And most of those funds had one source -- a legislator from the Quad Cities.
Jesiel and Mason will face off Nov. 6 for the 61st District seat, which represents much of northern Lake County.
Candidates for state office must file quarterly disclosure reports once their donations reach certain thresholds. Additionally, donations of $1,000 or more must be reported as they come in.
Reports are viewable online at elections.il.gov.
Jesiel's campaign started July with about $40,678 and raised $89,913 in the quarter, her report shows. Of that sum, about $78,762 arrived as transfers from political committees.
Jesiel's biggest donor was the House Republican Organization, which gave $43,362. Other donations included:
• $500 from the Anheuser-Busch brewing company.
• $500 from Nicor.
• $1,000 from the Illinois Hospital Association's political committee.
• $5,000 from the Illinois Chamber of Commerce.
Jesiel spent nearly $84,095 in the quarter, finishing with $46,497 saved. She also has reported receiving more than $182,984 in donations of $1,000 or more after the quarter ended, including about $176,985 from the House Republican Organization that came over in cash or as payments to vendors or employees.
Jesiel's chief of staff, Joel Sikes, declined to comment on the donations from the GOP or other sources.
"Our campaign really has no say in it," Sikes said. "The focus at our campaign has been on running a grass-roots effort that focuses on the issues and utilizes a great base of dedicated volunteers and supporters."
Mason's campaign started July with nearly $12,794 saved. She raised $66,074 in the quarter, including $61,500 from political groups.
• $10,000 from the Illinois Federation of Teachers' political committee.
• $5,000 from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Workers.
• $1,000 from the Illinois Pipe Trades' committee.
• $45,000 from the campaign committee for Democratic state Rep. Mike Halpin of Rock Island.
When asked about the large donation from Halpin, Mason said it's common for campaigns within the same party to support each other if they have a financial surplus.
"I receive support from my political party just as (Jesiel) receives support from hers," Mason said.
Mason spent about $66,193 during the quarter, finishing with $12,675 in the bank.
Last week, Mason reported a $42,000 donation from the campaign of state Rep. Kathleen Willis, an Addison Democrat.