Now that the votes are counted, you get to know who paid for everything

Updated: Dec 31, 2020

Who paid for all this? How much did all this cost?

Based on state election law and timing of this election only now will you be able to figure out who is the money behind the campaigns. Let me explain.

During the election, I received 11 mailers/flyers from each party in the Orland Park election Trustee race. That does not include individual candidate mailers or mailers from 3rd parties.

Each one of these mail pieces can cost about $.50 to design, print and deliver to your mailbox. So if you want to communicate with 10,000 houses in Orland Park, that’s $5,000 total per mailing.

Using round numbers, I estimate that each side has spent $55,000 so far (11 mailers @$5,000 each), just to be in your mailbox. Its less if you distribute in a newspaper.

The Illinois Election Campaign Disclosure laws are both and squishy in terms of a voter understanding the money flow in a timely matter. I’ll do the highlights, but feel free to read the rules here:

Simply put:

Once a candidate or party raises or spends more than $5,000, they have to file with the State Board of Elections, which you can see online. Otherwise, no disclosure.

Contributions and expenditures over $150 from a single source have to be itemized, however any contributions over $1,000 have to be reported immediately.

Reports are due quarterly, so for example, the first quarter is 1 Jan through 31 Mar.

So for this election, you won’t see how much money has come in, from whom or how it is being spent until after you vote. The first quarter report is due soon, long after the votes are counted.

Further, state law makes the timing of the reporting totally dependent on the campaigns themselves.

“In the case of a contribution made by check or money order, the date of receipt is the date the money is either deposited or the check is cashed, and the money becomes available to the committee.”

The reason you should care is simple: There are plenty of ways sophisticated political consulting firms can cover their tracks on the money and delay the disclosures, so voters don’t know about the money flow. They can delay sending the bill to the campaigns, they can front run the expenses for postage and advertising because they have a large donor waiting in the wings to cover the costs, etc.

This happens on both sides in Orland Township. Big money players on both sides want to influence local elections for their purposes on national or statewide campaigns, etc.

What can you do about it? Become aware, watch for the financial disclosures, ask yourself “who benefits,” and remember. The 2020 campaigns are already starting up….

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