PI Original Steven Ross Johnson Friday February 24th, 2012, 1:28pm

Duckworth, Krishnamoorthi Disagree On Super PACs, Job Creation

In the race to become the next representative of Illinois’ 8th Congressional District, much of the attention as of late has focused on the fight between the two Democratic challengers over their views on campaign finance and their perspectives on how best to improve a still recovering economy.

In the race to become the next representative of Illinois’ 8th Congressional District, much of the attention as of late has focused on the fight between the two Democratic challengers over their views on campaign finance and their perspectives on how best to improve a still recovering economy.

While both candidates - Hoffman Estates residents Tammy Duckworth and Raja Krishnamoorthi – share a disdain over the rising influence of what has become known as super PACs, the two cannot seem to come to an agreement to mutually reject support from such groups.

The rise of the super PAC, or an independent political action committee that has limits on the amount of money it can raise, was made possible in 2010 when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission that groups such as corporations and unions could not be prohibited from making political contributions.   

Since that time, such groups have been able to spend the money they raise — money that can be contributed by sources that do not need to be disclosed — to buy media ads in favor or against a particular candidate.

Duckworth, an Iraq War veteran and former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Veterans Affairs, recently challenged Krishnamoorthi to sign a pledge rejecting any ad that was funded by a super PAC, and if an ad were to appear, the candidate that benefited from it would then agree to pay half the cost of airing it to the charity of the opponent’s choice. The pledge is based on one agreed upon by Massachusetts Senatorial candidates Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren.

“I absolutely abhor super PACs,” Duckworth said. “And I offered the pledge to Raja and he turned it down.”

Krishnamoorthi, a former Deputy State Treasurer, has thus far not agreed to the pledge, saying he would do so only if Duckworth also agreed to not accept contributions from international unions, corporations and lobbyists.

“On its face that pledge makes absolutely no sense in this particular situation,” Krishnamoorthi said. “If a Republican were to, for instance, attack my opponent, the Republican would kill two birds with one stone – not only would they get the benefit  of attacking my opponent, but I would have to pay half of the value of that ad to some outside entity further draining our coffers – that’s absolutely the wrong way to go.”

Duckworth has repudiated Krishnamoorthi’s conditions to accepting her pledge, accusing him of trying to deflect the issue by lumping in all PACs with those made up of big money and anonymous donors.  

“I think that’s trying to distract people from the real issue because there are many political action committees that represent people with disabilities, firefighters, letter carriers, where people put $5 a paycheck toward their political action committee that represent their interests,” Duckworth said.  “I don’t think those transparent programs should be compared to the opaqueness of super PACs, where they don’t have to tell you where any of that money is coming from.”

Another issue where the two Democrats differ is on the economy, or more specifically, on the best way to speed up a slow recovery and create more jobs.

Krishnamoorthi said part of his plan would include investment in public infrastructure projects, allowing for the principle on mortgages to be lowered for homeowners who owe more on their home than it’s currently worth, and making credit more accessible for small businesses.

The candidate said his experience as a small business owner made him the candidate best suited to address such economic issues.

“The cruel irony of the current economy is that there are 3 million job vacancies and 12 million to 14 million unemployed,” Krishnamoorthi said. “These people can’t pick those jobs, they don’t have the training for those jobs yet, and so those are the challenges we need to address front and center.”

Like Krishnamoorthi, Duckworth said her economic plan includes investment in public infrastructure projects as well as the creation of job retraining programs to help those looking for work become better suited to fill what she described as “new economy jobs”.  

“This [idea] is based on my dad who lost his job when he was 55 and did not have the computer skills,” Duckworth said. “If he had some basic computer skills he would have been able to adjust and find a job a lot sooner than he did, and our family had the bottom fallout from us because my dad at 55 lost his job and was unemployed for many years.”

In addition, Duckworth advocates providing tax credits to companies that hire people who have been unemployed for more than six months.

Krishnamoorthi and Duckworth are vying for the seat currently held by first-term Tea Party incumbent Rep. Joe Walsh, of McHenry, who was elected in 2010, but has since seen the boundaries of the 8th District redrawn to include portions of Cook, DuPage and Kane counties.  As a result, many believe the change has put Walsh in a vulnerable position to be defeated in November.

Repeated calls to Walsh’s campaign for comment were not answered.

Duckworth, whose national name recognition has helped to give her a sizable lead over Krishnamoorthi in a poll released in January, is regarded as the candidate with the best chance to defeat Walsh, and has recently received endorsements from north suburban newspaper the Daily Herald, the Chicago Tribune as well as Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Krishnamoorthi, who has been endorsed by longtime 7th District U.S. Rep. Danny Davis and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, still holds an advantage in terms of money with $791,157 of cash on hand compared to Duckworth who had $561,651, according to 2011 year-end  filings made to the Federal Election Commission.  

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Sideliner, how is losing by 2% to Roskam getting trounced? If you have followed the race you know Tammy is gaining in money every quarter while Raja is declining in money every quarter since his first one..

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