Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Illinois State Sen. Mike Noland On Campaign Finance-- The Strings Attached


With Tammy Duckworth running for Mark Kirk's Senate seat, in the IL-08 district just northwest of Chicago (Schaumburg, Elgin, Carpentersville, Carol Stream, Hoffman Estates, Elk Grove Village, Bloomingdale)-- PVI D+8-- there's a rare opportunity to replace a careerist-centrist with a populist activist. State Senator Mike Noland, first elected in 2006, has been one of the most progressive members of Illinois's Senate and is likely to run for Congress next year, and to run on his progressive record focused on economic recovery, ethics reform, and fighting for universal health care. Mike penned a guest post for us today:

Continuing the Fight for Campaign Finance Reform

by Illinois State Senator Mike Noland

Our Congress is deadlocked; Washington is in a constant rut unable to pass even the smallest pieces of meaningful legislation. I believe that the root cause of this gridlock is our unregulated system of campaign financing. This current system makes candidates work for the highest bidder who can support their next campaign and not the voters who send them to Washington.

When I was first elected to the Illinois State Senate in 2006 there were NO LIMITS on how much could be donated to a candidate running for office.

My first campaign for the State Senate was one of the most expensive contests during that cycle. As the race heated up, both sides began to dump hundreds-of-thousands of dollars worth of mail, television advertising, and unregulated cash into my race. While I was happy to accept the cash from the Senate President, I knew that there would be strings attached, down the road.

It did not take me long to, realize how damaging Illinois’ unregulated campaign finance system was to our elected representatives, so I stood up and began to work to fix it.

In 2009 I was a lead co-sponsor of SB 1466, which for the first time introduced campaign contribution limits for candidates running in Illinois. Not only did this legislation introduce limiting the amount individuals and PACs could donate to campaigns it also created greater transparency by requiring all contributions over $1,000 be reported (and posted publicly) within 5 days, and required candidates to disclose their contributions each quarter (instead of only twice a year).

The legislation that we passed in 2009 was a great step forward, but it still left much to be done. Our system of funding campaigns is not just broken in Illinois but it is broken on the federal level and it must be fixed if we want to have a Congress that will get to work.

In 2013 I helped pass a joint-resolution that would urge Congress to adopt a constitutional amendment to reverse the Citizens United decision and clearly define that CORPORATIONS ARE NOT INDIVIDUALS. While this legislation was mainly symbolic I believe it was an important step to demonstrate to Congress how obvious it is that we must reform the current system.

Right now, I am very seriously exploring a run for Congress in the suburbs of Chicago. The most daunting part of this campaign is the money it will take to win. I am not saying that to complain about all the calls I will have to make. I am saying it because candidates for elected office should get to spend their time talking to voters, studying the issues, and getting to know the communities they want to represent. Instead of doing those things candidates are forced to spend hours cold calling donors and making the donors the center of their campaigns and not the voters.

I hope that I can go to Congress and be an advocate for reform and sunshine. I recognize that (until we see a different set of Supreme Court Justices) our chances for campaign finance reform are limited. But I will not let that stop me from trying. I plan on working with members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus to help pass meaningful solutions and offer new ideas that can support greater transparency and accountability on how we fund campaigns in this country.

In addition to my support for campaign finance reform I have also stood up on a handful of other reform minded issues including; passed a constitutional amendment that allows for recalling our governor, supported a ballot referendum that would create a non-partisan redistricting commission, and supported legislation that created day of voter registration in Illinois.

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At 5:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Find enough people like Noland, and I might begin to believe that real change is possible.


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