Fear of 'venom, hatred' in taxpayer-funded campaign ads helps stop Senate bill
Sen. Chapin Rose (R-Mahomet) told the Senate on Thursday that taxpayers shouldn't be forced to lie down in the dirt with political candidates who throw mud at one another.
Rose was arguing against Senate Bill 1424, which would use public funding to match campaign donations for Illinois candidates running for public office.
“If this passes today, and we are going to use taxpayer money to spew venom at each other, the people of Illinois are going to look and say, ‘What the heck are those guys thinking? What are they thinking?” Rose said. “And they would be right.”
Rose’s criticism after he posed a question to the bill's sponsor, Sen. Daniel Biss (D-Evanston), who has announced that he will run for governor in 2018.
“Is there anything in this bill that would prevent these dollars from being used on negative advertising and negative attacks?” Rose asked. “The type of spewing hatred and venom that we’ve come to see in elections?"
Biss said the bill should keep those kinds of ads to a minimum.
“What this bill does is incentivize candidate to run a campaign that appeals to people -- appeal to a broad mass of people,” Biss said. “Specifically, that kind of negative campaign that turns people off, that all of us hate so much … that would be counterproductive. The primary purpose of this is to change behavior in government, but I think it would also have a really significant benefit on an ancillary level and change the behavior of campaigns because it incentivizes campaigns that actually appeal to people. “
Rose said that the answer to his question, then, was 'no.'
Biss replied that nothing in the bill would put restrictions on free speech.
To further make his point, Rose reminded Senators about advertisements used by former Gov. Rod Blagojevich disparaging Judy Baar Topinka during the Illinois 2006 gubernatorial race. He said the ads defamed Topinka and deliberately lied to the people of Illinois.
Rose’s concerns echoed those of many other Senators, and the bill failed to pass. Biss requested a postponed consideration.