MADISON WI - Illinois political insiders were irked by the effect super PACs had on the Republican primaries in March, leading GOP Minority Leader Jim Durkin to suggest to reporters that legislation should be considered to rein in independent expenditure groups.
Recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions opened the way for unlimited campaign contributions, placing money and power in the hands of well-heeled individuals outside political circles.
And although illegal, coordinating with super PACs can be a temptation too great for even the most experienced and informed politicians, Project Veritas' undercover investigator James O'Keefe revealed last week.
In O'Keefe's video, Wisconsin Senate President Mike Ellis is caught sounding as if he was making plans to set up a super PAC and coordinate efforts to attack his Democrat challenger - a potential violation of Wisconsin's election code.
"I'm putting together my own super PAC," Ellis is heard saying,“My brother Dave is going to be in charge of it. We’re going to have $500,000. I don’t need to kiss anybody’s ass.”
During the conversation caught on tape in a bar across the street from the Capitol, Ellis mentions what sounds like potential PAC donors' names and the amount he expected them to donate to the super PAC.
In the video, the most powerful member of the Wisconsin Senate is heard to be undercutting fellow Republican Governor Scott Walker, saying "I think Walker is for Walker ..."
After the Project Veritas video became public, Ellis, 73, made a sudden turnabout in his campaign plans, and announced he would not be seeking re-election in 2014, ending a 44-year career in the Wisconsin legislature.