Hylla's war chest funded largely by asbestos lawyers

Steve Gonzalez Oct. 24, 2006, 6:18am

Asbestos lawyers -- and a mesothelioma victim, too -- have taken a liking to candidate Dave Hylla, a plaintiff's attorney running for Madison County circuit judge.

According to financial records disclosed yesterday, Hylla -- a Democrat -- raised an astonishing $343,358.41 between July 1 and Oct. 8. Since then, he raised another $49,800.

Hylla's largest contributor was the SimmonsCooper law firm of East Alton, which made six contributions totaling $151,500. The firm's managing partner, Jeff Cooper, donated $10,000.

Individual lawyers from the SimmonsCooper law firm also donated a decent chunk of change to Hylla. Perry Browder and John Barnard each gave $5,000; Ted Gianaris gave $10,500 and David Younker gave $2,500.

At a press conference on Monday, Hylla said if he were elected he would probably never be able to hear a case brought by SimmonsCooper because the firm refers asbestos cases to his firm. Hylla said his partner, Mike Bilbrey, handles asbestos while he focuses on general practice, including workers' compensation cases.

Luke Lindau of Arlington Heights, a Madison County asbestos plaintiff who settled for $4 million in November 2004, kicked in $200 for Hylla. Lindau suffers from mesothelioma, a deadly disease brought on by asbestos exposure.

Other notable contributors to Hylla's campaign include $13,500 from the Edwardsville law firm of Goldenberg, Heller, Antognoli, Rowland, Short & Gori. Legendary attorney Rex Carr wrote checks totaling $14,455. Jeff Hebrank of the Burroughs firm chipped in $1,000. Lance Callis gave Hylla $500. Edwardsville attorney John Hopkins wrote two checks totaling $1,200.

Hylla also loaned his campaign $75,000.

On the other hand, Circuit Judge Don Weber -- a Republican -- only raised $33,825 between July 1 and Oct. 8. Since then another $50,618.25 has flowed into his campaign.

Weber's largest contributor was JustPac, the political action committee of the Illinois Civil Justice League. So far the ICJL PAC has donated $65,000.

The law firm Hinshaw & Culbertson and Brown & James each gave Weber $300. Attorneyu Gordon Broom gave Weber $1,800; Knapp Ohl and Green donated $200; and Reinert & Rourke gave Weber $750.

Oil distributor William Schrimpf gave Weber $1,000; Midwest Radiological Associates gave $250; and the Madison County Republican Central Committee gave Weber $1,000.

The Moran Vacancy

A great disparity in funding for candidates running to fill the vacany created by George Moran, Jr.'s retirement also showed up in financial disclosure reports due on Monday.

Madison County Associate Judges Barbara Crowder -- a Democrat -- raised $69,948.68 in the last reporting period, while Judge James Hackett -- a Republican -- raised $12,230.

Hackett's largest individual contributor was Ed Sholar, owner of the popular Fast Eddie's Bon-Air, who gave $2,500. Attorney John Hopkins, a staunch Democrat, gave Hackett his second largest contribution of $1,000.

Hackett had $14,369.64 at the beginning of the reporting period while Crowder had $42,049.29.

Crowder's largest contribution was from Edwardsville-based Heller, Antognoli, Rowland, Short & Gori, with two checks totaling $6,000.

Rex Carr of East St. Louis gave Crowder $5,000.

A courier driver employed by DHL, David Penning of Maryland Heights, gave Crowder $1,500. His brother, a teacher in the Hazelwood School District, also gave Crowder $1,500.

Other notable donors included Stephen Tillery, Jeff Cooper, Evelyn Bowles, Judy Cates and Lance Callis.


Having imposed a $1,500 cap on individual contributions, judges seeking retention in the Third Circuit still managed to raise a whopping $208,900.

Chief Judge Ann Callis and Judges Charles Romani and John Knight all together ponied up $202,000.

Their campaign's largest individual contributor was Jeff Cooper who gave the maximum amount of $1,500.

Family Physicians of Madison County in Glen Carbon, Dean Sweet of East Alton and Opal Wetzel each gave $200 for the retention campaign.

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