Gov. Quinn calls for campaign finance limits

CHICAGO — Gov. Pat Quinn wants campaign finance limits in place for next year’s election, a key component of his effort to clean up state government and a move that would give him a boost in a re-election bid.

The Chicago Democrat said Thursday he wants lawmakers to pass contribution limits proposed by the reform commission he created in the wake of the scandals surrounding ousted former Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

Quinn also said he doesn’t think candidates with hefty campaign purses should be able to use that money in the next election if contribution limits are enacted.

This is something that undoubtedly would help Quinn because he isn’t rolling in campaign dough.

“The people of Illinois want reasonable limits on campaign contributions, they want campaign finance reform, they want our government cleaned up. The source of corruption over and over again has been money and so we have to deal with that issue. We got to take the big money out and put the people back in Illinois politics,” Quinn told reporters after testifying before the Illinois Reform Commission.

Quinn had $83,512 in his campaign fund at the end of the year, according to an Illinois State Board of Elections filing. One potential challenger, Attorney General Lisa Madigan, had almost $3.5 million.

The governor even went so far as to suggest that people with loads of campaign money donate it to charities or a not-for-profit group so all the candidates in the 2010 election would start at the same level, something Quinn says won’t happen if money raised without campaign limits is grandfathered in. But any demand by Quinn in proposed legislation to not let candidates use money they’ve already raised could kill campaign finance measures the governor wants, said Cynthia Canary, director of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform.

“I honestly don’t know that that is possible,” she said.

Canary said she likes the contribution limits proposed by the commission that set individual contributions at $2,400 and $5,000 for donations from corporations, labor organizations and political committees other than state party and legislative caucus committees that can give higher amounts.