Rep. Sean Casten has $1 million more cash-on-hand than rival Rep. Marie Newman

Newman’s campaign cash was used for payments to a law firm connected to an ongoing ethics probe and for high salary payments to the congressional candidate who figures at the center of the case.

SHARE Rep. Sean Casten has $1 million more cash-on-hand than rival Rep. Marie Newman
Democrats Marie Newman and Sean Casten are pitted against each other in the June Illinois primary.

Democrats Marie Newman and Sean Casten are pitted against each other in the June Illinois primary.

Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

WASHINGTON — In the big Democratic primary battle between two incumbents, Rep. Sean Casten has $1 million more cash-on-hand than rival Rep. Marie Newman, according to new Federal Election Commission reports.

Newman’s campaign cash was used for payments to a law firm connected to an ongoing ethics probe and for high salary payments to Iymen Chehade, the congressional candidate who figures at the center of the case.

Congressional primary contests for the June 28 Illinois primary are still taking shape, with signatures on petitions needed to get on the ballot not due until 5 p.m. on March 14.

Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill., continues to have one of the largest House campaign war chests in the nation, with $11,550,540 cash-on-hand as of Dec. 31. I have been told he is stockpiling money for the day when a Senate seat opens up in Illinois.

Here’s an overview of campaign cash as of Dec. 31 for the newly drawn Illinois congressional districts, revamped following the 2020 census by Democrats in Springfield who control the state House and Senate. The amount raised is for October, November and December.

1st Congressional District Democratic: The surprise retirement of Rep. Bobby Rush in January means we won’t know about the financial muscle of most contenders who jumped in the contest until April.

3rd C.D. Democratic: In this new district with no incumbent, Ald. Gilbert Villegas (36th) raised $386,473 and has $377,055 cash on hand; state Rep. Delia Ramirez, D-Chicago, raised $113,218 has $110,443 cash on hand. Chehade, a college instructor who figures in the Marie Newman ethics case, raised $41,265 and has a balance of $38,846.

6th C.D. Democratic: Casten raised $799,067 in the last three months of 2021 and had stockpiled $1,580,171. Newman raised $337,876 and has $573,120 cash on hand.

Newman is using her campaign funds to pay legal fees to Perkins Coie, the firm defending her in a case involving Chehade.

At issue in the House Ethics Committee probe is whether a 2018 contract she signed promising Chehade a job if she won in 2020 violated any laws or House rules. Chehade said in his lawsuit the job offer was an inducement for him not to run against her.

Between July 1 and Dec. 31, the Newman campaign paid the law firm $94,000, according to FEC records.

The probe stems from a lawsuit Chehade filed on Jan. 19, 2021, to try to enforce the contract. The suit was settled on June 29, 2021, with Newman and Chehade agreeing to not disclose the settlement terms.

On July 1, Chehade was put on her campaign payroll as a part-time “Director of Foreign Policy and Research.” Between July 1 and Dec. 31, he’s been paid $54,000 – making him the second highest paid person on the campaign.

Campaign manager Ben Hardin said, “Mr. Chehade, an advisor to our campaign on foreign policy matters, is an important member of our team. As sometimes happens, Mr. Chehade and Marie had a disagreement that led to a lawsuit in 2021. The two settled the lawsuit amicably last year and agreed to move forward together in a productive manner.”

7th C.D. Democratic: Kina Collins, a former director for an anti-gun violence nonprofit, outraised Rep. Danny Davis, though he has more cash-on-hand. She collected $343,252 in the last quarter of 2021 and has a $130,927 balance. Davis got $334,074 in contributions and has a $532,060 balance.

11th C.D. Democratic: The Democratic incumbent, Rep. Bill Foster, has a balance of $4,263,932. Democrats see the newly drawn district as possibly tougher for him.

11th C.D. Republican: With the district potentially having some prospects for Republicans, a GOP primary is brewing between, among others, Catalina Lauf, who has a $255,976 balance and Cassandra Tanner Miller, who jumped in the race this week. She became a domestic violence activist after her ex-husband killed their young son. Last year, Lauf launched a primary bid against Rep. Adam Kinzinger before he announced he is not running again. Since the Democrats broke up Kinzinger’s current district, Lauf switched to the 11th.

15th C.D. Republican: In this new district pitting two GOP incumbents against each other, Rep. Rodney Davis raised $420,699 and has $1,234,171 on-hand. Rep. Mary Miller, collected $164,262 in the same period and has a $414,795 balance.

Interactive map of new Illinois congressional districts; click on a district to check its number:

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