As soon as the Constitution permitted him to run for Congress, Al Salvi did. In 1986, just 26 and fresh from the University of Illinois law school, he sank $1,000 of his own money, which was most of his money, into his campaign to unseat an incumbent Democratic congressman. Salvi studied for the bar exam during meals at campaign dinners.
He lost his campaign. Today, however, he should be invited to Congress to testify about what happened 10 years later, when he was a prosperous lawyer and won the Republican Senate nomination to run against a Democratic congressman named Dick Durbin.
In the fall of 1996, at the campaign’s climax, Democrats filed with the Federal Election Commission charges against Salvi’s campaign alleging campaign finance violations. These charges dominated the campaign’s closing days. Salvi spoke by telephone with the head of the FEC’s Enforcement Division, who he remembers saying: “Promise me you will never run for office again, and we’ll drop this case.” He was speaking to Lois Lerner.
The rest of Will's column is syndicated nationwide.