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Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Hot Air in the Windy City

In May, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich announced a proposal to reform the role money plays in his state's politics, including a $2,000 limit on individual contributions to a candidate and a $5,000 limit on contributions from political parties and PACs to candidates. While these amounts are too high to empower regular folks, they were arguably a step in the right direction for a state without any limits on political contributions.

As Dave McKinney of the Chicago Sun-Times reports, Blagojevich apparently didn't think much of his own proposal. This week, the governor is holding a fundraiser at Chicago's Field Museum designed to raise $4 million for Blagojevich's campaign warchest in contributions of up to $10,000. The $4 million would bring the total currently held by Blagojevich to some $14 million.

The governor's aides insist that the seeming contradiction isn't hypocrisy because the governor's proposals are not the law - to abide by his own proposal (and the proposal's premise that there is a problem with money in politics) would be tantamount to unilateral disarmament. There's a bit of a flaw in this disingenuous argument, however:

Blagojevich's proposal conveniently would allow candidates to keep whatever money they've raised prior to the law's enactment. Under the Guv's proposal, he gets to keep his dollars, while opponents would be limited. Considering none of the Guv's potential opponents have done any significant fundraising yet, that sounds a lot more like unilateral armament than disarmament.

Regardless of the Governor's mad dash for cash, the sincerity of his reform proposals will be judged by his ability to support them and get them passed. If the Guv doesn't make it happen, expect the excuses from his staff to be well-funded and just as bogus as they seem today.

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