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Contribution limits are off in Meier-Moore primary for House seat

Belleville News Democrat

Thursday, February 8, 2018  |  Article  |  By Joseph Bustos

Candidates--Legislative (11) Meier, Charlie--State House, 108 , Schimpf, Paul--State Senate, 58
When Don Moore, a Republican vying to run for state representative in the 108th Illinois House district, started his fundraising committee in January, he had a little more than $1,000 in the account.

Since then Moore, a Troy resident and Madison County Board member, has reported only a $2,000 in-kind contribution from the Chicago-based Illinois Opportunity Project, which paid for consulting services.

However, commercials supporting Moore, who is challenging state Rep. Charlie Meier, R-Okawville, have been running on cable television in the area as well as online.

So how does someone with little money in his campaign account have so many 30-second TV commercials, including a two-week set of advertisements with cable provider Spectrum Reach in Madison County for 282 spots?

Liberty Principles, a Chicago-based political action committee run by Dan Proft, has spent more than $135,000 on advertising and mailings in support of Moore, according to records filed with the State Board of Elections. The amount spent by the PAC removes all contribution limits for those who want to donate to candidates in the race.

Proft, who also has been supporting Rep. Jeanne Ives in her run for governor, did not respond to requests for comment.

In the advertisements for Moore, Meier is criticized for being one of the 72 representatives to initially vote for the income tax increase that was vetoed by Gov. Bruce Rauner; 71 yes votes were needed.

Liberty Principles has also bought enough advertising to remove limits in seven other state House races, state records show. Since 2012, the PAC has received more than $19.2 million in contributions.

According to state records, Richard Uihlein, the CEO of Uline, based in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin, has given the PAC more than $12 million since 2012, accounting for more than 62 percent of the PAC’s receipts since 2012.

Uihlein did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

Meier said he continues to raise money, while questioning the intentions of Liberty Principles.

“It’s pretty easy if you run a campaign and you only have to talk to only one person to get an unlimited amount of money,” Meier said. “It makes you wonder about it. It seems like to me, when you’ve got one person doing it, it really does look like they’re trying to buy the district. That’s my opinion.”

Moore said he met with Proft when the two discussed Moore’s eventual candidacy.

“They were talking to different people about running against Mr. Meier because of what he did on voting for the budget, which is contrary to what he said he would do, and a lot of people were upset with it, including myself,” Moore said.

Moore said the Illinois Opportunity Project, which Proft is also is a member of, asked him questions on where he stood on issues.

Moore added he is in favor of term limits, supports Second Amendment rights and is against abortion.

“I even made it clear, and I didn’t know at that point they were going to choose me, but I said, ‘If I get involved with things, I speak my own mind. I’m an independent thinker,’” Moore said. “I spent 20 years in the Marine Corps, being a hard-head about things. My bosses know I speak my mind and I stand up for myself.”

Meier ultimately voted against overriding Rauner’s veto of the income tax increase, but the higher rate went into place anyway.

He said when he voted for the budget originally, he wanted to keep a budget moving forward as there had been a budget impasse for more than two years.

“The governor didn’t have the power to cut and reduce spending because there was no budget,” Meier said. “We had to work to try to get a budget.”

Meier said people in the district don’t know who Moore is, while citing his own record.

Meier said he’s fought for the district, saying the Warren G. Murray Developmental Center is still open even though it was threatened for closure, and that he fought for work to be done on bridges in Madison County.

“I am the person who has answered my phone seven days a week, 18 hours a day, holidays and everything else,” Meier said. “I’ve repeatedly put my cell phone out there.

To help Meier, the House Republican Organization has pumped money into the Meier campaign. Republicans have spent more than $35,000 for printing and $15,000 for media production for Meier’s campaign, according to State Board of Elections records. The House Republican Organization also has made a $13,000 direct contribution to the campaign of Meier. Meier also has received $1,000 from state Sen. Paul Schimpf, R-Waterloo.