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Observations on the 2016 conventions’ money trail

Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan talks to reporters at the delegation breakfast on Wednesday. | Tina Sfondeles/Sun-Times

PHILADELPHIA — Presidential conventions are gold mines of major political money, which is why the leaders of the Illinois House — Democratic Speaker Mike Madigan and the top Republican, Jim Durkin — used their respective gatherings to prospect for contributions to help bolster their troops.

The conventions, the Republicans at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland last week and the Democrats at the Wells Fargo Center here, brought together local, county, state and federal elected and appointed officials from around the nation.

That in turn attracts lobbyists of all stripes. They help underwrite convention activities attended by the officials and/or their influential operatives.

Observations on the 2016 conventions’ money trail:

• Illinois corporate and labor organizations with government dealings helped bankroll Democratic Party of Illinois and Illinois Republican Party convention activities.

In return, the donors gained access to convention credentials, scarce hotel rooms, parties and more.


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Labor, no surprise, was a bigger player for the Illinois Democrats, where the daily breakfasts were underwritten by, among others, the Illinois Education Association; the Chicago Federation of Labor; the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers; LIUNA; UFCW; Illinois Federation of Teachers; USW, Illinois Pipe Trades Association; ULLICO and the Illinois AFL-CIO.

Dem sponsors also included a host of Illinois connected companies: Walgreens; Illinois Restaurant Association; State Farm; CME Group; CBOE; BNSE Railway; Ford; Illinois Realtors, DeVry Education Group; Pepsico and Takeda Pharmaceutical.

• Over in Cleveland, the Illinois GOP sponsors were Abbott Laboratories; State Farm Insurance; Illinois Chamber of Commerce; Astellas Pharma and Takeda.

The only mega GOP donor from Illinois spotted in Cleveland was Cubs board member Todd Ricketts, whose family, with one exception, is a major donor to the Republican National Committee. Gov. Bruce Rauner and Sen. Mark Kirk boycotted Donald Trump’s convention — and the Illinois Trump delegates were mainly unknowns — so lobbyists were hardly around.

• Every major Democrat figure from Illinois eventually showed up here, providing robust political mingling opportunities. Illinois Hillary Clinton mega donors, Cubs board member Laura Ricketts, J.B. Pritzker and Raj Fernando, were on the scene.

A Twitter List by Suntimes