By Justin Hegy -
In the race for Illinois governor, campaign contribution restrictions have legally been lifted. Labor union’s political action committees, or PACs, have long been primary financial backers of Democrats both in Illinois and nationally. Unsurprisingly, these PACs are now throwing extraordinary amounts of cash behind Gov. Pat Quinn’s re-election bid.
Quinn’s political war chest is closing in on $5 million. Out of the $1.85 million Quinn raised in in the last quarter of 2013, PACs representing unions have written the largest checks:
- $250,000 from Operating Engineers Local 150
- $150,000 from IBEW (Electrical union PAC)
- $100,000 from IUPAT (International painters PAC)
- $100,000 from Laborers Union PAC
- $52,000 from United Food and Commercial Workers PAC
This is not a new trend – Union PACs have traditionally thrown the majority of their money behind Democrats. Union leaders often play partisan politics with money they collect through dues.
Union PACs are a major financier of Democrats in Illinois
Quinn took in more than $3 million from six of Illinois’ largest Union PACs from 2002 to 2012. More broadly, Illinois Democrats raised nearly $20 million from this same group of union PACs. Democrats earned 81 percent of union PAC contributions in the state.
Union PACs spend majority share on Illinois’ Democrats
(In millions, 2002-2012)
Union PACs play partisan federal politics as well
In an analysis of federal Union PAC contributions in the 2012 election cycle, 91 percent of all contributions went to Democrats – totaling $55 million.
Union PACs spend big money on federal Democratic candidates
(In millions, 2012 federal election cycle)
With contribution restrictions lifted in the upcoming governor’s race, large flows of union PAC money are being thrown behind Quinn. Labor unions have long played partisan politics with the union dues they collect, both in Illinois and nationally. This long-standing trend has greatly distorted the political landscape and this is no more apparent than in Illinois’ dysfunctional government.
Justin Hegy is a Policy Analyst at the Illinois Policy Institute