SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) – In the midst of Illinois’ budget impasse, the Governor may have a hard time reconciling his own checking account.
Roughly one-third of Republican state legislators haven’t cashed checks written to them from Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner’s campaign fund in the waning days of the legislative session, according to a report published Sunday.
The first-term Republican governor doled out about $400,000 to all 67 GOP members of the Illinois House and Senate in May. Campaign finance experts called the move unusual, but Rauner said his political funds equipped him to push his agenda and curb the influence “special interests.”
Still, several Republicans said they felt it was inappropriate while issues were still being debated in Springfield. Rauner and the Democratic-controlled Legislature were unable to agree on a spending plan or other issues ahead of the start of the July 1 fiscal year and remain deadlocked.
As of last week, 22 lawmakers hadn’t cashed the checks totaling about $119,000, according to the Springfield bureau of Lee Enterprises.
“I don’t want to make it look like someone is influencing me from the administration, so it’s sitting in a drawer and we’re going to hold it,” said state Rep. David Reis of Willow Hill.
State Rep. Don Moffitt, a Gilson Republican, said he’s uncertain what he’ll do with Rauner’s check, but likely will wait until the budget impasse is over. The Rauner checks ranged from $3,000 to $10,000.
“I just thought to receive it while there is still pending legislation, I’d feel more comfortable after the session is over,” Moffitt said. “And this one just doesn’t want to end.”
Overtime sessions since the end of May haven’t produced much tangible progress on the budget or other reform ideas that Rauner wants lawmakers to take up.
Rauner’s office didn’t return messages seeking comment about the contributions, including one left Sunday by The Associated Press.
House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton, both Democrats, also have political funds, though they’ve typically distributed money from them closer to elections.
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