CHICAGO - Things got heated in the race for Illinois Attorney General. The Democratic candidates traded barbs and insults when the question of conflicts of interest came up during a forum Wednesday.
The focus of many of the attacks was State Senator Kwame Raoul, considered by some to be the frontrunner in this race. The forum descended into a shouting match several times as accusations flew.
"I'm not for sale. I'm simply not for sale," Raoul said.
Raoul was on the defensive about campaign contributions from groups or companies the Attorney General might have to issue opinions on.
"The manner in which Kwame Raoul took $100,000 in donations from a tobacco magnate that was clearly broken up into $10,000 increments to get around campaign finance laws and his explanation for that was, 'Well, it was perfectly legal.' People have concerns about that," candidate Sharon Fairley said.
"The standard has always been, you don't take money from folks who have pending matters before that, so that's a big concern. That raises a question of his ethics," candidate Jesse Ruiz said.
Raoul brushed off his critics, saying: "Well, when you're a front runner, you come under attack."
As Raoul raised the issue of contributions to other candidates, the forum became a yelling match.
"I don't, I'm not finished! I don't assume because she or Jesse have received those contributions, they are going to be bought," Raoul said.
"One of the problems that we have in this room is that we have people that are beholden to the powers that be that don't want to change anything," candidate Scott Drury said.
"Democracy can be messy. I think we saw a little of that today, but it's important for people to understand what the candidates stand for," candidate Nancy Rotering said.
Current Attorney General Lisa Madigan was another target of criticism by those seeking the job she is leaving.
"So I think we have to be fair in analyzing what has been done in the previous administration and very, very little, if anything," said candidate Aaron Goldstein.
Former Governor Pat Quinn also found himself under attack for joining the race.
"I saw someone who lost to Bruce Rauner and ultimately put us in the situation we're in. And ultimately I think if you can't defeat Bruce Rauner, I don't understand why we would trust you to take on Donald Trump?" candidate Renato Mariotti said.
"You know if you're in politics, it ain't bean bag, and they're gonna attack you. But you know the voters make the decision on March 20th," Quinn said.
Raoul found himself at odds with his opponents on another issue. They all agreed Cook County Assessor Joe Berrios, who is under fire for property tax appeals conflicts, should step down. Raoul said, let the voters decide.
Of course, Raoul did get the endorsement of the Cook County Democratic Party, and Joe Berrios is the head of the party.