Attorney general candidates face off over campaign contributions in forum

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Thursday, March 8, 2018
Candidates for Illinois Attorney General face off in forum
The candidates for Illinois Attorney Genearl faced off in a forum hosted by the Better Government Association and ABC7.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Campaign contributions and independence from the influence of donations were a key issue among candidates for Illinois Attorney General during a forum Wednesday evening.

The forum was held at Roosevelt University and was sponsored by ABC7 and the Better Government Association.

"We live in a state right now that's an absolute poster child for lack of resident trust in our elected officials," said Democratic candidate Nancy Rotering.

The candidates stressed a need for an attorney general free from monetary influence.

"My average contribution size in this race is under $100," said Democratic candidate Renato Mariotti. "I am not taking any money from special interests."

"Every person who serves in elected office takes an oath their duty is to the public not to any campaign contributors," said Democratic candidate Pat Quinn.

During the conversation, Democratic candidate Kwame Raoul continued to be dogged by a major donation from tobacco companies.

"Why do you give money to a politician?" said Democratic candidate Aaron Goldstein. "I think it's fair to say you give money because you believe in that politician. 15 Now let me ask you another question. Why would tobacco companies give $100,000 to Senator Raoul?"

"I've had a 13 year record of taking campaign contributions, and in no instance has a campaign contribution tainted how I acted as a public servant," Raoul said.

"I'm not a politician," said Democratic candidate Sharon Fairley. "I am in the race because I love being a lawyer and this is the best legal job in the state, and that's why I want it. So I will not be making decision on based on what or how they may impact my political career."

Other candidates stressed their independence from political bosses like Mike Madigan and Mayor Emanuel.

"I'm the only Democratic member of the House of Representatives in the last three decades who did not vote for him to be Speaker of the House," said Scott Drury of Madigan.

"When I was appointed to the Chicago Board of Education by the mayor and the mayor appointed a friend of his to serve as CEO, and I believed his friend was not doing something that was proper, I called it out," said Democratic candidate Jesse Ruiz.

In a separate forum for the two Republican candidates, Erika Harold defended her recent decision to take $300,000 from Governor Bruce Rauner. Harold was heckled when she said she could be independent.

"I have a record of already standing up for the things that I think are right and opposing him and that's a record," Harold said. "So if you want to heckle in the audience, you can look and see my record."

"I'm self-funding my campaign, that's how serious I am about this and that's what I'm doing," said Republican candidate Gary Grasso.