See who’s financing Illinois elections — thanks to local open data group


Until now, an enterprising resident of the Prairie State who wanted to see how much money had been raised thus far in the current Illinois Governor’s race would have to input the names of all seven candidates, then download seven separate datasets and merge them into a single file.

Suffer no longer Illinois — Election Money has come to your rescue.

A project of, an open government and civic hacking group from Chicago, is seeking to bridge the gap between political influence datasets maintained to keep elected officials accountable to the public and the less-than-user-friendly way governments often make them available. The Illinois Campaign for Political Reform collaborated on the effort, which came about through a Sunlight Foundation initiative in Illinois to make political influence data more accessible to journalists, activists and the public. The Robert R. McCormick Foundation supported the initiative.

Thanks to and the Election Money site, we’ve run some numbers to take a look at some campaign spending trends and totals in Illinois during the current election cycle.

Most campaign dollars raised for Illinois races come from Illinois

Of the $237.3 million raised in Illinois state and local races since Jan. 1, 2013, about 83 percent of that money was raised by donors with addresses in Illinois. Will outside spending groups — which historically have pulled as much money from outside of the states they operate in as from within — take an interest on one or more statewide races? Or will Illinois interests continue to dominate Illinois campaign spending?

On this note, it’s interesting to see that seven percent of all the money raised so far in Illinois came from Washington D.C. The top two donors from that city—unsurprisingly—were the Republican Governors Association, (giving $4 million) and the Democratic Governors Association, (giving about $1.5 million). Another PAC, the “Democratic Governors Association-IL,” gave about $741,000.

Looking down at the city level, Chicago and Springfield were the biggest donors to campaigns—giving over $71 million and $24 million respectively. Winnetka, Ill., an affluent Chicago suburb of about 12,000 people, came in fourth place, just behind Washington D.C. Of the $11.1 million that came from Winnetka, $8.95 million came from just one donor—Bruce Rauner, the Republican candidate for governor.

Seventeen donors have given more than $1 million so far

In the spirit of Meg Whitman, Rauner, a venture capitalist, has taken to the campaign trail with more than a few pennies to toss around. Just last week, he promised $1 million of his own money to a South Side Chicago credit union to finance struggling small businesses.

Another mega-donor, hedge-fund mogul Kenneth Griffin, who once said the wealthy have “an insufficient influence” on politics in today’s America, is certainly doing his best to remedy that. Griffin has given nearly $3.8 million to Illinois races so far, with $3.5 million of that going to fellow financier Rauner. Griffin also gave $150,000 to Chicago Forward, a super PAC supporting Democratic Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

The aggregate data assembled by allowed us to examine which candidates relied on Illinois dollars and who fundraised out-of-state to purchase airtime, print lawn signs and buy pizza for hungry volunteers. Unsurprisingly, some PACs are Illinois in little more than name only.

Search here to see how much out-of-state money went to groups

Some highlights:

The Wine and Spirit Distributors of Illinois PAC took in about $87,000 from Illinois donors this campaign cycle. The PAC also took in the other 49 percent of its money from donors in Florida, records show.

Citizens for Sullivan, the campaign arm of state Rep. Ed Sullivan, has pulled in about $331,000 in this campaign cycle. According to our analysis, about 28 percent of those donations come from citizens don’t live in Illinois and hail from places like New York, Missouri and Florida.

Bill Daley, former Obama White House Chief of Staff and member of the influential Daley clan of Chicago, took in about 35 percent of his campaign funds from out-of-state sources in his abortive run for governor of Illinois, our analysis found.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who famously berated political donors into coughing up more dough, will be racking up some long-distance charges this cycle. About 30 percent of Emanuel’s donors come from outside Illinois.

Visit Election Money to download the data for yourself. See what you can find, then tell us about it.