A campaign committee funded by billionaire businessman Sam Zell andGov. Bruce Rauner is launching the beginning of an anti-Mike MadiganTV ad blitz as the governor wages war to push through his agenda.
The blitz targeting the Democratic House speaker is already adding another layer of tension as budget talks have gone into overtime and as lawmakers prepare to return to Springfieldon Tuesday.
Purchasing sheets shows a broadcast and cable TV ad buy at more than$826,000 statewide — and the first ad began airing across the state Tuesday.
The first ad, titled “Crossroads,” names Madigan and says of Democrats, “All they want is higher taxes. Again.”
Rauner himself ends the ad, which adopts a less harsh tone than some observers had expected, with a voiceover, saying, “Change in Springfield isn’t easy — but you didn’t send me here to do what’s easy.”
Paying for the ads is Turnaround Illinois, an Independent ExpenditureCommittee, which means it does not have limits on donations itaccepts.
Democrats say the ad blitz will not help the Republicans in their budget negotiations.
“It actually impedes the ability for people to come to the table. Youcan’t forget we’re human beings, if you’re very negative towardssomeone it’s very difficult to say, ‘Ok, let’s sit down and negotiatein good faith.’” said state Rep. Jack Franks, D-Marengo. “It’s clearthat the goal isn’t to get to a budget deal because this isn’t goingto help get there. I would think this is only designed for politicalpurposes.”
State campaign finance records show only two people have donated tothe committee that’s funding the ads; Zell, who put $4 million intothe account in April, and Rauner himself, who donated $250,000 to it.The fund itself was set up by two former Rauner campaign aides.
Madigan spokesman Steve Brown had viewed the adon Tuesdayand saidMadigan was the only legislator mentioned in the ad.
“It’s just the governor working on the extreme end of the politicalspectrum,” Brown said. “It’s not going to avoid the shut down of stategovernment.”
Since he took office, Rauner has toured the state pushing hisso-called turnaround agenda. He’s recently asked that lawmakersreform workers compensation laws and impose a freeze on propertytaxes.
Papers filed with the Illinois State Board of Elections describe the purpose ofTurnaround Illinois this way:
“To support state legislative candidates who support Gov. Rauner’sbold and needed reforms, and to oppose those who stand in the way.”
Franks said he has backed Rauner’s move to revamp the politicalprocess by which legislative districts are drawn and put term limitson lawmakers. But he said he wonders why Rauner, who has $20 millionin his own campaign account, isn’t talking about campaign finance law.
“If you really want to shake up Illinois, besides the term limits,perhaps we should take the big money out of it as well,” Franks said.