Several hundred candidates across Illinois including two Peoria City Council members missed a deadline to file campaign finance reports. The deadline moved up 10 days from last year, which added to the confusion. The state Board of Elections said they will allow violators a one-time grace period to get their reports in without penalty.
Several local elected officials missed the deadline to file campaign finance reports — a requirement some say they didn’t even know existed and hundreds of candidates around the state also missed.
City Council members Ryan Spain and Eric Turner and District 150 School Board member Rachel Parker didn’t file by Friday’s deadline, according to the state Board of Elections Web site, This year’s deadline was moved up 10 days from last year’s July 30 deadline because the 2008 primary was pushed more than a month earlier.
Spain said he wasn’t aware of the earlier date and will file as soon as possible.
"If you have a grass-roots type of campaign organization, sometimes it’s difficult to plan on the fluid changes that occur in the legislature," he said Tuesday. "I’ve been around politics for several years now and the normal process I’ve been accustomed to is an end of the month cycle."
Tardy filers will get a one-time break from penalties. The board of elections gave the grace period of the deadline change, though it did send letters to all campaign committees informing them of the change, said Cris Cray, the board’s legislation director.
Parker acknowledged she got the letter, but didn’t pay attention to the date change or pass the information along to her treasurer. "... so it’s really my error, but we definitely need to get on that and get that done – today," she said. "This is my first time doing any campaigning so it’s all new to me. I’m learning as I go. As a newbie, I just overlooked it, but that’s no excuse."
Turner could not be reached for comment. The board’s Web site shows he last filed electronically on April 11.
More than 400 of the state’s nearly 3,570 active campaign committees who file finance reports had not done so by midnight Friday for the period of Jan. 1 through June 30, state officials said.
Spain said he remember getting a letter notifying him of the change, though that doesn’t mean one wasn’t sent. He said after an election, parts of a campaign go dormant and, in his case, a post office box where the letter may have been mailed.
"I appreciate the wisdom of our state Board of Elections for realizing this does put some campaigns in an unusual spot. Helping getting everyone accustomed to these new rules based on the legislative change is appreciated," he said.
Candidates must file finance reports and form a committee if they raise or spend more than $3,000 in a 12-month period. Many candidates in April’s general election did not raise that amount and, therefore, were not required to file.
Penalties for late filing depend on several variables and are based on a formula that factors the number of days late, how many times the offense was committed and how much money the committee has on hand, among other things.
Karen McDonald can be reached at (309) 686-3285 or email@example.com.