Inside the war chests: Campaign finance reports illuminate spenders on the trail

Campaign finance reports illuminate spenders on the trail

Retiring McHenry County State's Attorney Lou Bianchi and State's Attorney-elect Patrick Kenneally celebrate his win Nov. 8, 2016, at Marzano's in McHenry.
Retiring McHenry County State's Attorney Lou Bianchi and State's Attorney-elect Patrick Kenneally celebrate his win Nov. 8, 2016, at Marzano's in McHenry.

Campaign finance reports highlighting the last quarter of political spending in McHenry County have landed in the database of the Illinois State Board of Elections.

The latest reports cover the period between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31, offering some insight into how local politicians spent their money before and after the November elections.

A study of the filing revealed a rare appearance from former McHenry County State’s Attorney Lou Bianchi, who donated $2,000 to the war chest of Algonquin Township Highway Commissioner Andrew Gasser.

A $44,000 transaction turned in by the campaign committee of the standing McHenry County State’s Attorney Patrick Kenneally – a loan to himself to prepare for an election in the near future.

“Gearing up for 2020,” Kenneally told the Northwest Herald.

Here’s a look at the biggest spenders, bank rolls and contributions of the last quarter in McHenry County politics.

Biggest spenders 

McHenry County Assessor Mary Mahady ran a tough race last year.

After a losing effort against 32nd District State Sen. Craig Wilcox, R-McHenry, Mahady reported she spent more than $170,000. Wilcox spent about $20,000.

The remaining big spenders did not run in any election.

State Rep. David McSweeney, R-Barrington Hills, spent $21,600 in the last quarter of 2018 on items such as fundraising and consulting.

McHenry County Board Chairman Jack Franks’ committee spent a whopping $81,000 on similar items and a new truck to replace the campaign’s old one, he said.

Biggest bankroll

Former State Sen. Pamela Althoff made her return to McHenry County as a newly elected member of the County Board. With her, she brought a lot of the money she raised as a senator.

Her campaign coffers at the end of the last reporting period included almost $87,000.

Franks’ bank account registered about $52,000, with Kenneally nearby with $46,939.

Sitting Sheriff Bill Prim reported funds of about $25,000.

The Uihlein connection

Richard Uihlein, the conservative megadonor who has injected millions into GOP campaigns all over the country, directed some of his money toward McHenry County politics.

He is co-owner of Wisconsin-based shipping supplies company Uline. The company donated $11,000 to McSweeney.

In separate individual contributions of $5,600, Uihlein donated to both Wilcox and McHenry County Clerk and Recorder Joe Tirio.

Uihlein also is a contributor to the Liberty Principles Political Action Committee, a Chicago-based PAC supporting Republican candidates throughout the state. The PAC was started in 2012 by conservative radio host Dan Proft. 

Liberty Principles has put out many partisan publications in Illinois, including in McHenry County. In October, Uihlein donated $500,000 to Liberty Principles. 

Local party cash

The central committees of Democrats and Republicans in McHenry County received decent backing in the last quarter, according to the latest reports.

The McHenry County Democratic Central Committee reported expenditures of $32,000, while the Republican Central Committee of McHenry County reported spending about $1,200.

The GOP’s largest contribution of $5,000 came from Alliance Contractors. The Democrats received about $12,000 from the Democratic Central Committee of Rock Island County.

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