BY MIKE CETERA
Anyone donating to a political candidate expects something in return, no matter if it's a business or an individual, which is what makes this pay-to-play talk so complicated.
Is it OK to accept a contribution from someone who opposes abortion, knowing they expect you to do something about that clinic in town? Aren't they paying for some expected response -- even if it goes against the better financial interests of the city?
Is this different than the company that has contracts with the city (even though there's a sealed bidding process in many cases) making a donation? Are they trying to buy more contracts -- once again -- against the better financial interests of the city?
I'm not sure.
This brings me to the latest D-2s, which offer few surprises: Many of the ususual supporters of Tom Weisner are there. Weisner predictably raised much more money than his presumptive opponents, Stephanie Kifowit and Rick Lawrence.
Some thoughts from the D-2s:
* Weisner's single largest individual contribution ($5,000), came from the one-time operator of a number of area McDonald's franchises. Edward Schmitt now lists his occupation as "retired." Schmitt previously donated more than $4,000 to the Weisner campaign.
* Weisner paid $16,000 to Fako & Associates Inc., a Lisle-based Democratic polling firm. The payment came a week after Weisner announced his re-election bid. Did they do the work beforehand and what did the mayor learn?
* Lawrence says he's turned down money from people seeking to donate. Fine. So for now we can only gauge interest in his campaign by who he has accepted money from -- people connected to River Street Plaza and people mad about the opening of the Planned Parenthood Clinic.
* Lawrence spent ($2,700) almost as much money as he raised in individual contributions ($2,985) in donations/tickets to the Illinois State Crime Commission dinner where he accepted an award. A number of other winners statewide also used campaign money to buy tables at the event.
* Both Kifowit and Lawrence downplay their fundraising prowess versus the incumbent. When you trail the money race, what else are you going to say? I'd love to see some examples of candidates who were outspent badly who went on to defeat the incumbent. This is a tough burden to overcome, no matter how much they pooh-pooh it.