Rezin says opponent was trying to use state funds for his congressional run
Congressional candidate Sue Rezin said she caught GOP primary opponent Jim Oberweis "red-handed" in a campaign laundering scheme — using information from La Salle County State's Attorney Karen Donnelly.
Oberweis, also a state senator from Sugar Grove, is accused of donating money to other candidates' campaign committees from his campaign committee for state senator, in exchange for a reciprocal donation to his federal campaign for the Republican nomination in the 14th Congressional District.
Rezin, also a state senator from Morris, has filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission, stating federal law prohibits Oberweis from using his state campaign funds for his congressional run.
Donnelly provided Rezin's campaign with a copy of an uncashed $1,000 check from the Friends of Jim Oberweis to Donnelly's campaign committee. Donnelly said Oberweis then told her personally in a phone conversation to donate $500 to his federal campaign committee.
Donnelly alerted Rezin's campaign and signed a sworn affidavit of what took place.
In early February, Oberweis had an agent of his campaign, Keith Becker, contact Donnelly through a Facebook message saying: "State Sen. Jim Oberweis said he would make a reciprocal donation of greater value for a donation to his campaign." Becker then gave Donnelly Oberweis' cellphone number.
In an email, the Oberweis campaign dismissed the complaints as false accusations and "political grandstanding" by Rezin.
"In a desperate last-minute effort to try to gain some traction on her failing campaign, Sue Rezin’s campaign has resorted to dirty, smear tactics in her attacks against Jim Oberweis. These allegations are simply not true," the email said.
Federal election law does not permit state and local campaign funds from to be transferred to federal campaigns, according to an email from the Federal Election Commission Press Officer Judith Ingram.
“A candidate’s authorized (federal) committee may not accept funds or assets transferred from a committee established by the same candidate for a nonfederal election campaign,” according to an email statement from Ingram.
“At its option, however, a nonfederal committee of the same candidate may refund its leftover funds to its contributors and may coordinate arrangements with the federal campaign for a solicitation of those same persons,” according to the email.
Steve Shearer from Sue Rezin's campaign said there had been suspicion Oberweis was asking other GOP candidates for a contribution from them to his campaign for Congress in exchange for a contribution from him of greater value to their respective campaigns, noting several state candidates are unfamiliar with federal regulations.
"This is his sixth federal race, so he knows what the rules are," Shearer said.
Donnelly said her campaign has no intentions of cashing the check, saying it will be used as evidence for the complaint. No part of La Salle County falls within the 14th Congressional District. Rezin's state senate district includes La Salle County.
Along with Rezin and Oberweis, Anthony Catella, Jerry Evans, Ted Gradel, Catalina Lauf and James Marter are vying for the Republican nomination in the March 17 primary. The 14th Congressional seat is held by Lauren Underwood, D-Naperville.