The Illinois State Board of Elections ruled that For a Better Chicago (FBC), the pro-business group that has quickly became a major player in the city's municipal elections, may keep its donors from the public. The ruling means that the $855,000 the FBC raised to aid candidates running for Chicago's City Council will remain a mystery.
The Board ruled 7-1 that the donors to FBC, who gave to a 501(c)4 organization of the same name, do not have to be unveiled. The ruling has disappointed watchdogs who track how political money flows in Illinois. The Illinois Campaign for Political Reform's David Morrison wrote in a letter to the elections board that "The fundamental issue here is whether the right hand knows what the left hand is doing. Is it credible that the same people can raise money for 'political' purposes and spend that money 'to support candidates' without triggering campaign disclosure? Can campaign disclosure be undone by having the exact same people form two separate-but-identical corporations? That is the question this complaint raises, and I urge you to support the public's right to know by enforcing the law on For a Better Chicago." The Illinois Campaign for Political Reform initiated the complaint against FBC.
For A Better Chicago is making endorsements in Chicago's 2011 aldermanic campaigns and donations to its selected candidates (the group has also run pro-Illinois advertisements in New Jersey and Wisconsin). A review of the group's filings with the election board shows thus far it has given out over $500,000. Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel, who is supporting many of the same candidates as FBC, has said the group should disclose its donors.