Campaign Contribution Research


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This presentation was done by a student in the summer 2013 offering of the online class "Nonprofits & Civic Engagement" from the University of Illinois Chicago. Tom Tresser, instructor.

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Campaign Contribution Research

  1. 1. Campaign Contribution Research Week 3 Studio, Option #2 UIC Nonprofits & Civic Engagement – Summer 2013
  2. 2. Elected Official My State Representative: Gregory Harris Whom he represents: 13th District of Illinois First elected to seat: 2006 Worth noting: Openly gay, openly living with HIV; founder of Open Hand Chicago and AIDSWalk Chicago
  3. 3. Following the Money Total raised in 2012: $89,422 Total contributors: 131 Average donation: $682.61 Top 10 donors 1. Associated Beer Distributors of Illinois ($3,500) 2. Aetna ($2,500) 3. Comcast ($2,500) 4. Aurora Chicago Lakeshore Hospital ($2,000) 5. Citizens for John Cullerton ($2,000) 6. Illinois Hospital & Health Systems Association ($2,000) 7. Illinois Hospital Association ($2,000) 8. Illinois Trial Lawyers Association ($2,000) 9. Robert Kohl ($2,000) 10. SEIU Healthcare Illinois Indiana ($2,000)
  4. 4. Top Donor Associated Beer Distributors of Illinois Beer, wine and liquor represent big business in Chicago and across Illinois. According to, the Associated Beer Distributors of Illinois has donated $1,095,277 to politicians and political candidates to date. That includes $651,017 to Democrats, $442,260 to Republicans and $2,000 to third-party candidates. Almost 91 percent of the total contributions has gone toward incumbents, while 7.5 percent have gone toward candidates pursuing open seats and 1.6 percent have gone toward challengers.
  5. 5. Connecting the Dots Political influence is essential to the Associated Beer Distributors of Illinois. As an veteran state representative on Chicago’s North Side, Gregory Harris carries political influence. It makes sense that ABDI would support Harris. Of course, ABDI has a motive for handing out money. The group’s website includes a “Government Guide” that outlines its strategy to its members: “Few, if any, industries are as highly regulated as the alcoholic beverage industry. Every facet of the industry (from the moment every beer is brewed to the moment that the beer is consumed) is regulated. Laws determine who may sell alcohol, what can be sold, where to sell, when to sell, how to sell, and who can purchase alcohol. Because of government’s role in the alcoholic beverage industry, ABDI’s top priority is to provide Association Members with representation and monitoring of government activities at both the State and Federal levels. ABDI is committed to represent its members’ interests on laws and regulations that affect the malt beverage distribution industry.”
  6. 6. Connecting the Dots, II The 13th District of Illinois includes dozens (if not hundreds) of bars and restaurants with liquor licenses, and it’s in Gregory Harris’ best interests politically to be a friend to the beverage industry. Likewise, it’s in ABDI’s interest to have a political friend such as Harris (not to mention many of his colleagues in Springfield). My conclusion is that ABDI is not advocating for change so much as trying to maintain the (highly profitable) status quo for its members. For Harris, who is focused on marriage equality and other big-picture topics, ABDI’s gift likely helped him gain re-election and pursue issues unrelated to beer distributors.