Rep. Reggie Phillips, R-Charleston, recently received a contribution of $53,000 to his re-election campaign from Citizens for Rauner, Inc., a committee originally created in support of the gubernatorial candidacy of Gov. Bruce Rauner.
Phillips said he reached out to the governor’s office and asked if he would be interested in contributing to his campaign.
Since Rauner had sent out checks to other Republican candidates for other offices and he was currently working with the governor on multiple issues, Phillips said he and his staff thought he could ask him for the donation.
Prior to this, Phillips said he had financed his first campaign for representative himself.
He said he has made a commitment to not take a pension or health insurance and has been donating his salary to scholarships, food banks and other places that need it.
Phillips already has a relationship with Rauner, as the governor has endorsed his campaign for re-election as representative for the 110th district.
He said this relationship helps him help the district, as the governor will be more likely to listen to him about issues such as funding Eastern.
Since receiving the money, Phillips has been watching Facebook posts criticizing the decision to take the $53,000 and decided it was not the best idea.
Phillips said instead of using the money given to him by Rauner for his re-election campaign, he would donate it to areas in the district such as Sexual Assault Counseling and Information Services.
He said the money he received from Citizens for Rauner, Inc. will be left in his campaign, but he will match the $53,000 he received and donate it.
“It doesn’t matter how they get it, people need help,” Phillips said. “They need money.”
Erin Walters, executive director of SACIS, said they had a meeting set up for Phillips to give a donation on Monday.
She said she heard this from one board member who talked to Phillips and let him know SACIS is struggling to keep their doors open.
In response to this information, Phillips said he would make a donation.
“As far as I am aware, this is a donation coming from Reggie Phillips,” Walters said.
Phillips said he did not need the money for his own campaign and asking for it was the result of taking poor advice.
In any other campaign, he added, having the governor contribute to one’s campaign would be an honor.
“It’s still an honor,” Phillips said. “But under circumstances I do not think it looks most appropriate.”
Phillips said he agrees with Rauner 100 percent on his business reform plans, but not higher education.
Charlie Wheeler, director of the public affairs reporting program at the University of Illinois Springfield, said Rauner gave contributions to a number of house and senate representatives to encourage them to vote his way.
He said it has been routine over the years that an incumbent running for office will have their party organization’s support.
It is not unusual to receive money from these organizations, Wheeler said, and party officials will usually back the person from their party unless they have annoyed the “powers that be.”
There is not currently a democratic candidate running for representative in the 110th district.
If nobody runs as a Democrat, the democratic chairman in the district can appoint someone to run.
Jonathan Kaye, who is running against Phillips for state representative in the Illinois primary, said he would “absolutely not” take money from Rauner for his campaign.
“He doesn’t know me, doesn’t know what I stand for,” Kaye said. “He doesn’t know anything about what I represent in the district. Until I know that that money is going to help the 110th district, it’s dirty money.”
Kaye said Rauner is not the only one who has exasperated the budget impasse, however. Michael Madigan, speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives, and John Cullerton, President of the Illinois Senate, are also part of the problem, he said.
Cassie Buchman can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]