CHICAGO (CBS) — He’s under attack for accepting donations from a tobacco titan.
Opponents are blasting State Sen. Kwame Raoul, who’s running for attorney general, because they say he accepted contributions that amount to a conflict of interest.
Raoul, however, defends the donations, while attacking his critics, CBS 2’s Derick Blakley reports.
To most Chicagoans, Don Levin’s best-known business is the Wolves hockey team. But in the corporate world, Levin is a tobacco giant, controlling companies that include JOB Rolling Papers, a popular brand of cigarette paper.
Now, he’s donated $100,000 to Raoul’s political campaign — money opponents demand that the state senator return.
“It’s improper because there’s a case pending before the attorney general, and it’s seeking to influence someone who would be attorney general,” said Jesse Ruiz, an attorney general candidate. “I think you have to stand up and show ethical behavior now, even before you ask voters to elect you to that office.”
Illinois’ attorney general is seeking millions from Levin’s company, in a dispute over payments to the state from tobacco settlements. Raoul insists Levin’s donation isn’t a conflict.
“I’ve known him for years. He’s contributed to me before, and all my votes have been anti-tobacco. I’m not for sale,” Raoul said.
Other Raoul opponents are piling on, too.
“Pay to play has no place in the attorney general’s office, which directly oversees the tobacco settlement agreement,” former Gov. Pat Quinn said.
CBS: You don’t see any reason to return this money?
“I’m going to continue to operate within the law and try to have enough money to communicate my message and my record,” Raoul said.
Raoul’s critics also charge that Levin’s donations were structured to get around state campaign donation limits. To that, Raoul says his only test is whether the donations were legal, which they were.