Runoffs: Questions and Answers

February 25, 2015

On April 7, 2015, the Mayoral race and numerous aldermanic races will be decided in runoff elections.  Here are three common questions and answers about how the City's Governmental Ethics Ordinance applies to runoff elections.


Q: I know that persons and companies that do business with the City (or certain other "sister agencies" like the Chicago Public Schools or the Chicago Transit Authority), and lobbyists registered with the Board of Ethics are limited to $1,500 in political contributions to candidates for City office.  But can a company or lobbyist subject to this limit make additional contributions to candidates in the runoff elections if it has already contributed the maximum amount to the candidate in 2015?

A:  The $1,500 limit applies per candidate, per candidacy, per calendar year.  Therefore, say Acme Widget, Inc. does business with the City and is subject to the $1,500 limitation, and that Acme contributed $1,500 to an aldermanic candidate in January 2015, and that same candidate is now going to be in the April 7 runoff.  Acme cannot make any further contributions to this candidate until 2016.  If, however, Acme made its $1,500 in contributions to this candidate in calendar year 2014, but has not yet made any contributions to this candidate in 2015, it may do so.  NOTE:  Mayoral Executive Orders 2011-1 and 2011-4 impose additional prohibitions on lobbyists and City contractors and subcontractors and their owners.  See the executive orders.


Q: Must candidates in the runoff election file another Statement of Financial Interests with the Board of Ethics prior to the runoff?

A: No.  The requirement that candidates file a Statement of Financial Interests applies per candidacy, and the Board of Ethics has determined that candidacy for the same office in both a consolidated municipal election (like the February 24, 2015 election) and a runoff (like the April 7, 2015 runoff election) are one single candidacy.  See this case.
NOTE:  Those elected to office will need to file a 2015 Statement of Financial Interests before they take the oath of office.


Q: What about contributions by persons, businesses, organizations, or others who are not subject to the City's $1,500 per candidate/ per calendar year contribution limitations?  Can they make additional contributions to candidates in the April 7, 2015 runoff election?  Are the "caps blown?"

A: These questions are governed by the Illinois Election Code, and Illinois state law.  The Board of Ethics cannot give advice or guidance as to this law.  Questions should be directed to qualified election counsel, or to the Illinois State Board of Elections.

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