Macon County man joins lawsuit over campaign contribution limits

Bethany Krajelis Aug. 30, 2012, 5:00am




CHICAGO - A Macon County man supporting Mike Babcock's bid for the Senate has joined Illinois Liberty PAC's fight to overturn a state law that limits campaign contributions.

Led by Chicago radio-talk show host Dan Proft, a former Republican candidate for governor, the political action committee filed a lawsuit last month in Chicago's federal court against Attorney General Lisa Madigan and members of the Illinois Board of Elections.

The suit contends that a 2009 state law limiting the amount of money individuals and PACs can give to candidates is unconstitutional because it violates equal protection and free speech rights.

On Friday, Illinois Liberty PAC filed an amended complaint that adds Edgar Bachrach as a plaintiff to its suit.

In a declaration attached as an exhibit to the amended complaint, Bachrach states that if it weren't for the current limits, he would donate an additional $5,000 to the campaign committee of Babcock, the Republican candidate seeking to represent the 56th District in the Illinois Senate.

The 56th District includes portions of Madison and St. Clair counties. Babcock is running against Sen. Bill Haine, a Democrat who has held the seat since 2002, in the November election.

Bachrach states in his declaration that he resides in Macon County, which is not part of the 56th District, and that he donated $5,000 to Babcock's campaign committee in the current election cycle.

Contribution records show that Babcock's committee reported the $5,000 donation on Wednesday night, a few hours after a Madison County Record reporter inquired about the donation as it had not yet been posted to the Illinois Board of Elections website.

Dan Morse, treasurer for Babcock's campaign committee, said Bachrach's contribution check was dated Aug. 24, the same day Illinois Liberty PAC filed its amended complaint naming Bachrach as a plaintiff.

Morse said Babcock received the check Tuesday and that he filed the necessary disclosure paperwork Wednesday evening.

The contribution record lists a Chicago address for Bachrach, who stated in his declaration that he resides in Macon County. Previous donations made by Bachrach, however, show the same Chicago address, as well as one in Decatur, which is the county seat of Macon County.

Records also show that since 2000, Bachrach has contributed $27,750 to candidates and political action committees. That amount includes two $10,000 donations to Illinois Liberty PAC, one in 2011 and one in May 2012.

The amended complaint filed by Bachrach and Illinois Liberty PAC focuses on campaign contribution limits approved in 2009.

The law at the crux of the suit limits the amount of donations individuals can make to candidates in general elections to $5,000, political action committees to $50,000 and corporations, unions and other associations to $10,000.

Among other provisions, the law does not limit contributions political parties can make in general elections.

This difference in treatment, the plaintiffs argue in their suit, favors the speech of political parties over the speech of individuals and political action committees that are faced with limitations under the law.

The suit contends that if it weren't for the current contribution limits, Bachrach and Illinois Liberty PAC would donate more to their chosen candidates and committees.

"Unless Illinois Liberty PAC and Bachrach are relieved of the Act's restrictions on their ability to contribute to candidates, they will lose their ability to participate as fully as they can and would like to in the 2012 election cycles," the suit states.

Illinois Liberty PAC and Bachrach ask the federal court in their suit to declare the limits in the law unconstitutional and to enjoin the defendants from enforcing the law.

Diane Cohen, Jacob Huebert and Peter White of the Justice Liberty Center in Chicago filed the amended complaint on behalf of the plaintiffs.

Cohen said Wednesday that U.S. District Judge Gary Feinerman earlier this week granted Illinois Liberty PAC's motion to withdraw its previous request for an injunction so it could file a new one to include Bachrach's claims.

She said she would file that motion today. An Aug. 27 docket entry in the case shows that the defendants have until Sept. 14 to respond and that the plaintiffs must file a reply by Sept. 19.

Records show that Marni M. Malowitz and Laura Marie Rawski of the Illinois Attorney General's Office represent the defendants.

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