FEC set to rule on Robin Kelly’s fundraising role on Thursday


The new chairman of the Illinois Democratic Party will not be able to personally raise funds for state races or participate in the selection of members of a committee to do so, if members of the Federal Election Commission support the language in a draft opinion. they should discuss Thursday.

In this draft released last week, committee members concluded that while a special committee may raise money for the party’s non-federal campaign fund, U.S. Representative Robin Kelly – who took over as president in longtime party leader Mike Madigan’s march. – cannot be involved in this process.

And Democrat Matteson should have “no role in the appointment of any member of the special committee,” according to the opinion.

Kelly’s name and title as president also cannot appear on letterhead soliciting non-federal campaign funds. The Federal Election Commission is due to discuss the project, and possibly render a decision, at its meeting on Thursday.

A party spokeswoman said in a statement “we believe the draft opinion is consistent with the encouraging discussion the commissioners held earlier and we hope that is what they will discuss tomorrow.

U.S. Representative Robin Kelly, D-Ill. Listens during a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on Capitol Hill last August.
Tom Williams / Pool / AFP via Getty Images

“We believe that the draft opinion confirms the president’s vision for a more inclusive party,” said the spokesperson.

Federal office holders are prohibited from raising or spending funds in non-federal elections, unless the amount is within the limits set by the Federal Campaign Finance Act.

Kelly would still be able to fundraise for federal campaigns, such as races for Congress or the US Senate.

The party asked the Federal Election Commission for advice on Kelly’s role as president in April and presented options designed to comply with federal campaign finance laws.

One option was a special committee for state, local and other non-federal fundraising that keeps Kelly out of the loop.

Carol Ronen, a former state legislator and member of the Democratic State Central Committee who supported Kelly in her bid to lead the party, saw the draft opinion as a victory for the MP and said members of the party should be “satisfied”.

Former State Senator Carol Ronen.

Former State Senator Carol Ronen.

Democrats knew when they picked Kelly that there would be “certain parameters so that she could not raise state funds” and they came up with a solution the election commission appears ready to accept, Ronen said, which represents the North Side and the northern suburbs of the 9th Congress. Neighborhood for the party.

But Cook County Clerk Karen Yarbrough, who has backed a rival presidential candidate in her role as a party representing the city and western suburbs of the 7th Congressional District, said the draft notice was “what to what I expected “.

“Nothing new here – I expected it to be this way. … where do we go from here? I don’t know, ”said the Democrat from Maywood. “Our members have decided that they want to proceed this way, and we will deal with [Kelly’s state fundraising] later.”

Now is the time, Yarbrough said.

Cook County Clerk Karen Yarbrough in June.

Cook County Clerk Karen Yarbrough in June.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia / Sun-Times File

“I guess we have some decisions to make,” said Yarbrough, who backed Ald. Michelle Harris (8th) vs. Kelly in the leadership battle.

Kelly edged Harris 51.65% to 48.35% in the weighted vote of the party’s 36 voting members in March.

Kelly supporter Bill Houlihan, who represents the party in the 18th Congressional District in central Illinois, said under Madigan, party coffers were widely used to secure a Democratic majority in the House of Commons. Illinois. Now the funds will be used for a lot more.

Former longtime aide to US Senator Dick Durbin said “other members of the state’s central committee are going to have to step up and help raise funds.”

US Representative Robin Kelly, left, last August;  Ald.  Michelle Harris (8th), right, in February.

US Representative Robin Kelly, left, last August; Ald. Michelle Harris (8th), right, in February.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia; Pat Nabong / Sun-Times file.

“I have the greatest confidence in Robin to do it on the federal side … and I think if we can strengthen [the federal fundraising] and at the same time making gains on the state side, I think we’re going to see a statewide party that works for all of the Illinois candidates.

A legal opinion published days before members chose Kelly to lead the party in March questioned his eligibility to lead state Democrats due to his inability to raise funds for the state election.

A spokeswoman for the MP said at the time that the “suggestion” that Kelly is “not eligible for president of the Illinois Democratic Party is false and offensive.”

In the memo, which was requested by Yarbrough as interim president, attorney Brian G. Svoboda concluded that the fundraising limitations imposed on Kelly “would essentially turn the president into a purely honorary role, without being able to lead a much of the DPI. Activities. “

The lawyer then advised against selecting a federal office holder without seeking the advisory opinion of the electoral commission.

Kelly released her own memo from attorney Michael Dorf conceding the limits of fundraising, but concluding that “there is no legal barrier” to her leading the state party.

Kelly sought to make lemonade, arguing that the situation would give more power to the other members of the committee.

“I will not only make sure that we follow the letter of the law, but also have an inclusive and team approach to all decisions that involve the finances of the party,” she said at the time.

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