SPRINGFIELD – State Senator James Clayborne, whose campaign fund held about $200,000 when he announced his retirement, has drained much of that amount on travel.
Last year and this year through Sept. 30, his campaign committee paid $20,758 in airfares and $14,843.36 in hotel bills.
That averages $988.48 a month for flying and $706.64 a month for lodging.
Clayborne’s committee paid for rooms at ten hotels in Chicago, two in Houston, and one each in Atlanta, Denver, and Palm Beach.
It paid $1,291.24 for parking at Lambert Airport and $681.92 for taxis in Chicago.
It paid a Houston group $3,325.38 for “a delegation to Israel.”
It paid $3,270.87 to Expedia without explaining the purpose.
Locally, the committee paid $32,017.27 to stage a golf tournament at Far Oaks Golf Club in Caseyville last year.
For that event, the committee bought 130 polo shirts and 215 caps.
On top of all that the committee paid $21,055.89 to lease and insure Clayborne’s vehicle, averaging $1,002.66 a month.
He used to raise money easily.
Since 1995, his committee received almost $5 million from individuals, businesses, and other political committees.
Until his last re-election in 2014, he faced weak competition or none, and had spent less than he received year after year.
He built a hefty balance that turned his committee into a source of support for the Democratic Party and its candidates in tough races.
His mastery of campaign finance prompted a wisecrack on the Senate floor after his colleagues passed a resolution in his honor in November.
Sen. Jackie Collins of Chicago told Clayborne she hadn’t served on committees with him because he got assigned to the lucrative committees.
Some Senators laughed.
Committee assignments don’t fully explain Clayborne’s success in raising funds, for big contributors supported him through the years regardless of his assignments.
Casino Queen gave him $1,000 for his first campaign and at least that much every year from 2000 to 2017, for a total of $79,335.
Timothy Rand, formerly part owner of the Casino Queen, gave him $46,000 from 1998 to 2012.
The state association of beer distributors supported Clayborne in 17 years from 1996 to 2017, for a total of $64,200.
The association of credit unions supported him every year but one from 1998 to 2017, for a total of $59,950.
The medical society supported him in 18 years since 1996, for a total of $49,000.
The realtors association supported him in 17 years from 1998 to 2017, for a total of $51,100.
The trial lawyers association supported him in 15 years from 1996 to 2016, for a total of $32,250.
In 2002, with early backers still on board, he found new support in nursing homes.
Wood Glen Pavilion of West Chicago gave him $52,250 in eight years.
Morton Terrace and Morton Villa of Morton gave him $17,500 in 12 years.
River Valley Supportive Living of Kankakee gave him $14,750 in ten years.
Sangamon Care of Springfield gave him $9,000 in five years.
Capitol Care Center of Springfield gave him $17,500 in 12 years.
Nursing homes drifted away but not the state hospital association, which gave him $36,500 from 2002 to 2017.
Clayborne, who served on the Senate Energy and Public Utilities Committee, also found support among energy companies.
Exelon, first to enlist, gave him $14,750 from 2001 to 2015.
Nicor Gas gave him $27,750 from 2002 to 2016.
Mid-America Energy gave him $19,500 from 2003 to 2016.
Midwest Generation gave him $19,500 from 2003 to 2011.
Dynegy started supporting him in 2005 and backed him every year through this year, for a total of $47,550.
Ameren, slow to react, made up for lost time.
It gave Clayborne $5,500 in 2006 and $11,750 in 2007; $28,000 in 2008, plus tickets to a Cardinal game worth $1,334.40.
It gave him $62,000 from 2009 to 2017. In 2015, it provided baseball tickets, food and refreshment worth $1,585.12. It paid $1,514.22 for a game in 2016.
Commonwealth Edison started supporting Clayborne in 2007, and gave him $20,550 through 2017.
Bluestar Energy of Chicago gave him $18,750 from 2007 to 2011.
Clayborne also found a supporter in Southern Wine and Spirits of Miramar, Fla., which gave him $48,000 from 2004 to 2017.
His biggest individual booster in the region, Majed Abusaid, gave him $65,000.
Abusaid owns businesses with Crown or King in their names.
Through Kings Food Phillips of Illinois, at a St. Louis address, he gave Clayborne $22,000 in 2006, and $14,000 from 2007 to 2014.
Through Crown Construction of Missouri, at the same address, he gave Clayborne $12,000 in 2010, $3,000 in 2011, and $2,000 in 2012.
Through Crown Wholesale, at another St. Louis address, he gave Clayborne $5,000 in 2015, $1,000 in 2016, and $1,000 in 2017.
In 2012, St. Clair County state’s attorney Brendan Kelly pursued a forfeiture action against one of Abusaid’s businesses, Crown Mart in East St. Louis.
Kelly alleged that Crown Mart and three nightclubs allowed criminals to operate on their properties.
Abusaid settled the case.
Around the same time he settled a suit claiming a stray bullet struck customer Darnell Sims because Crown Mart did not protect customers.
No one supported Clayborne more than public employees.
Illinois Education Association set him on his feet in 1996, with $9,000.
Through 2016, the association gave him $256,900.
The Federation of Teachers gave him $64,200 from 1998 to 2017.
The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees gave him $52,550 from 2001 to 2016.
Along with checks from steady supporters, Clayborne received checks from occasional supporters.
In 2008, at the peak of his fund-raising power, steady and occasional supporters combined to raise $711,150.06.
Clayborne ended 2008 with $662,293.19 in his treasury.
His balance had multiplied from $47,398.31 at the end of 1997 to $716,534.35 at the end of 2007.
As it grew, he started transferring his support to other committees.
In 2000, he transferred $14,440 to the St. Clair County Democratic Party central committee, $7,000 to the Senate Democratic fund, $6,000 to candidate Terry Link of Lake Bluff, and $5,000 to the central committee in East St. Louis.
In 2002, he transferred $15,801 to the county committee, $14,900 to attorney general Lisa Madigan, and $5,000 to candidate Kimberly Lightford of Maywood.
In 2004, he transferred $5,000 to candidate Gary Forby of Marion.
In 2005, he transferred $5,000 each to candidates Mike Jacobs of East Moline, Martin Sandoval of Chicago, and the state’s next attorney general, Kwame Raoul.
Clayborne raised his profile sharply in 2006, transferring $60,000 to the Senate Democratic fund.
He transferred $17,940 to the county committee and $5,000 each to governor candidate Rod Blagojevich and Calvin Giles of Chicago.
In 2007, he transferred $5,000 each to local candidates Alvin Parks and Gordon Bush, and $5,000 to the Senate Democratic fund.
In 2008, his peak year, he transferred $529,479.89 to other campaigns.
A large share of transfers went to propping up Forby with $15,000 on Sept. 15, $35,000 on Oct. 2, $100,000 on Oct. 14, and $50,000 on Oct. 29, for a total of $200,000.
His expenditures throughout the years centered mostly on travel, parties, and games, with some consulting and a little advertising.
He made an exception in the fall of 2014, paying $338,492 to Snyder Pickerill Media Group of Chicago for cable advertising.
In the 2014 general election – his last election – he narrowly defeated Republican Katherine Ruocco by a margin of 51.8 to 48.2, or 2,138 votes.
After that, he scaled back his financial activity.
In 2015, he transferred $6,000 to local candidate Curtis McCall.
In 2016, he transferred $15,000 to the Senate Democratic fund.
In 2017, he transferred $15,000 to the Senate Democratic fund and $5,000 to Daniel Biss of Evanston.
This year, he transferred $10,000 each to Raoul and Illinois Democratic Heartland, $9,000 to the party in East St. Louis, and $5,000 to Angie Sandoval of Chicago.
On Sept. 30, his treasury held $71,638.35.
Clayborne is expected to return to private law practice at Clayborn Sabo & Wagner in Belleville.