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Munger campaign transfers $3 million to state GOP

Left: State Republican Chairman Timothy Schneider in 2014. File Photo. Michael Schmidt/Sun-Times. Right: Illinois Comptroller Leslie Geissler Munger in February. File Photo | Rich Hein/Sun-Times

Just days after pulling in $5 million from two billionaire backers of Gov. Bruce Rauner, Republican Comptroller Leslie Munger’s campaign fund has transferred $3 million to the Illinois Republican Party.

The move likely will allow the state party to pump the millions initially received by Munger’s campaign to Republican candidates around the state, a legal maneuver used by both parties to pass contributions from candidates in big-spending races to candidates with less money in their accounts.

A spokesman for Munger did not respond to questions Wednesday from The Chicago Sun-Times. State GOP spokesman Steven Yaffe said that any transfers the party fund makes will be disclosed online, as Munger’s transfers were.

With a $260,000 loan from her husband last week, Munger’s fundraising passed the threshold to remove limits on the amounts she — or her opponent, Democrat Susana Mendoza — can receive from individual donors.

In the three days after the loan lifted the donation caps, Munger took in $5 million from two donors. GOP mega-donor and packaging magnate Richard Uihlein gave $2 million to Citizens for Munger on Sept. 27, a gift that was followed Sept. 29 by a $3 million donation from the state’s richest man, hedge fund manager Ken Griffin.

But the money didn’t sit in Munger’s account long. The same day Munger’s campaign received the $1 million check from Griffin, Citizens for Munger transferred $1 million to the Illinois Republican Party, according to state campaign finance records. Wednesday, Munger’s campaign transferred another $2 million to the GOP. With the caps in place, the maximum a single donor can give to a campaign is $5,400.

Political parties and leadership funds can give unlimited contributions to individual candidates, even in races which, unlike Munger’s race with Mendoza, contribution limits are still in place. The cash-swapping is legal, and has been widely used by both Republicans and Democrats alike in this election cycle— a major factor in the skyrocketing price of political campaigns.

RELATED: THE WATCHDOGS: Rauner-Madigan money trees sprouting millions

Republican candidates in recent election cycles have benefitted from massive contributions from Rauner, a billionaire who has donated more than 90 percent of the money received by the state party this election cycle, and other wealthy donors.

The influx of cash, GOP leaders have said, has enabled the party to match the spending of Democratic candidates, who have for years outspent Republicans, often with money funneled through a handful of campaign accounts controlled by House Speaker Michael Madigan and organized labor.