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Campaigns Must Disclose Payroll Numbers

Bruce Rauner
Brian Mackey/WUIS

The Illinois State Board of Elections is putting a stop to a practice that's allowed political campaigns to hide some of their spending.

This is a story of new technology coming under the purview of older campaign finance laws.

At least two major candidates this year have been paying staff through outside payroll companies: Democrat Mike Frerichs, who's running for treasurer, uses ADP; and Republican Bruce Rauner, running for governor, uses Paylocity.*

The problem comes in that payments were reported as being made to the companies, not the individual employees. This seems to violate state campaign rules, which require such payments be itemized by the ultimate recipient of the money.

Rupert Brogsmiller, director of the State Board of Elections, says this kind of thing first became a problem years ago when credit cards became common.

“You would have an expenditure to MasterCard or Visa, but it wouldn’t really explain as to how that money was actually spent,” Borgsmiller says.

The payroll flap was first reported by the conservative Illinois Review website.

A spokesman for Frerichs called the lack of disclosure an "oversight," and says the campaign updated its filings the same day the problem was brought to its attention.*

The Rauner campaign didn’t respond to our request for comment, but Borgsmiller says the Board of Elections has been in touch and anticipates Rauner will update his paperwork, too.

Borgsmiller says his people conduct what’re called “desk reviews” of all candidate filings, and most campaigns at some point make mistakes and have to file additional paperwork.

Correction, Jan. 23, 2014, 10:10 a.m.: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported the payroll company used by the Frerichs campaign. The story has also been updated with comment from a Frerichs spokesman. (Return to the corrected sentence.)

Brian Mackey formerly reported on state government and politics for NPR Illinois and a dozen other public radio stations across the state. Before that, he was A&E editor at The State Journal-Register and Statehouse bureau chief for the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin.
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