02.27.14 Deja vu: Questionable campaign money again causing problems in Illinois

Read this article on line in the St. Louis Post Dispatch           Home         AFP        Updates      Events

February 26, 2014 11:01 am  •  

UPDATE (10:42 a.m., Feb. 27): Gov. Quinn's campaign has announced it is donating the disputed campaign donation to charity.

Here we go again.

An Illinois official is under investigation for accepting campaign contributions from a St. Louis-based mining company that he regulated, according to a published report.

And some of that money ended up in the campaign coffer of Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn.

Quinn hasn't been implicated. But it clearly doesn't look good in a state where politicians have regularly gone to jail based on where their campaign money is coming from.

The Champaign News-Gazette reports that Michael L. Woods Sr. is an employee of the state Department of Natural Resources. In that capacity, he was responsible for regulating the Illinois coal mining operations of Foresight Energy Services of St. Louis.

Outside of state government, Woods is chairman of the Douglas County Democratic Party in east-central Illinois. Inthat capacity, he has accepted $14,000 in campaign contributions from Foresight, says the report. 

That constitutes a potential conflict of interest, which isn't allowed under Illinois campaign contribution regulations.

The largest chunk of that money, $5,000, was sent by the Douglas County Democrats to Quinn's campaign fund, according to the report.

In any other state, that last part might not sound significant. Local party organizations pass money to governors of their party all the time. But this is Illinois, where the last two governors — Republican George Ryan and Democrat Rod Blagojevich — both got prison terms due in part to tainted campaign money. 

The state office has reassigned Woods pending its investigation of the matter.