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Conservative PAC Suing Over Illinois Restrictions On 'Independent' Committees

Dan Proft
WUIS/Illinois Issues

A conservative political group is suing to overturn the Illinois campaign law restricting so-called independent expenditure committees.

The committees are unique in that they can spend whatever they want helping a candidate, as long as they don't coordinate with the campaign.

Other groups — corporations, unions, individual donors — can coordinate, but are limited in what they can spend, with a major exception: when fundraising caps are lifted.

That happens when a wealthy candidate — or an independent expenditure committee — spends more than a certain amount of money on a campaign.

In that case, everyone can spend whatever they want, but independent expenditure committees still cannot coordinate.

That is what conservative radio host Dan Proft and his Liberty Principles PAC want to change.

“There can’t be any compelling government reason to continue that prohibition of coordination if they allow other entities to do it,” says Jeffrey Schwab, a lawyer with the Liberty Justice Center, which is representing Proft in the case.

Schwab says the case is about free-speech rights: “It violates your rights if the government says you can’t utilize your First Amendment rights in this instance, but other people can.”

In a court filing, Proft says he plans to be involved in at least seven state legislative races this year.

The Liberty Justice Center is affiliated with the Illinois Policy Institute, and both are in turn affiliated with the conservative State Policy Network.

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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