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Conservative Law Center Challenges Illinois Campaign Finance Law

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (CBS) — The latest Illinois campaign finance law is under fire.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Dave Dahl reports, a federal lawsuit says the law is not fair, because contribution limits exempt political parties and their leaders.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Dave Dahl reports


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“The act which was initially passed in 2009 and effected in ’11 establishes a series of contribution limits on individuals and associations like LibertyPAC, while it exempts political parties and their leaders,” said Diane Cohen, general counsel for the Liberty Justice Center.

The center, part of the right-leaning Illinois Policy Institute, is suing on behalf of a political action committee. It is seeking to get the campaign finance law declared unconstitutional.

The center argues that the law gives ample opportunities for political parties and their leaders to “circumvent the few limits there are in the law.”

The center points out that in the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision – the landmark case in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that restricting political expenditures by corporations and unions violated the First Amendment – said restrictions on such expenditures were only justifiable to prevent corruption, or the appearance of corruption.

But the Illinois law does not serve that interest, the center says.

“Indeed, (the law) was enacted under the guise of campaign finance reform, but in reality, Illinois political leaders legislated themselves above the law and literally sanctioned their own control over the flow of campaign spending throughout the state,” the center says.

The center has also filed a motion seeking to have enforcement of the law halted, so that “everyone, not just political parties and their leaders, will be free to exercise their First Amendment rights to free speech” by backing and funding campaigns as they see fit.