6 GOP state reps call out Oberweis on campaign finance issues

'Questionable fundraising practices too big to ignore'

Jim Oberweis
Jim Oberweis

Six Republican state representatives issued a statement today that they want more complete answers from fellow state Sen. Jim Oberweis, R-Sugar Grove, in response to primary opponent state Sen. Sue Rezin’s, R-Morris, complaint to the Federal Election Commission.

Oberweis and Rezin are among seven candidates in the March 17 primary vying for the GOP nomination to run against incumbent U.S. Rep. Lauren Underwood, D-Naperville, in the November general election.

Rezin filed a complaint against Oberweis last week essentially accusing him of money laundering his campaign funds by lobbying Republicans for donations to his congressional campaign and then sending them donations from remaining funds from what is left of his state campaign funds.

The Friends of Jim Oberweis campaign, formed in 2011 to support his bid for state senator, had $26,491.13 left in it, according to the last filing on Dec. 31 2019.

Federal election law does not permit state and local campaign funds to be transferred to federal campaigns, according to an email from the Federal Election Commission Press Officer Judith Ingram.

State Reps. Mark Batinick, R-Plainfield; Tom Demmer, R-Dixon; Jeff Keicher, R-Sycamore; Dan Ugaste, Steve Reick, R-Geneva; and Grant Wehrli, R-Naperville, issued the statement to Oberweis.

“As state legislators who represent portions of Illinois’ 14th Congressional District, we have chosen to remain neutral in the Republican congressional nomination, but the latest allegations surrounding the questionable fundraising practices by Sen. Jim Oberweis are too concerning to ignore,” according to the statement.

“Too much is at stake with this congressional seat playing a crucial role in which party controls the U.S. House next year. We are publicly calling on Jim Oberweis to issue a complete and thorough response addressing each of the points raised by the Rezin campaign and the State’s Attorney,” according to the statement.

“The evidence released by the Rezin campaign appears well documented and corroborated by a State’s Attorney. The improper transfer of campaign funds between Jim Oberweis’ state and federal campaign accounts deserve more of an explanation by the Oberweis campaign,” according to the statement.

According to Rezin’s complaint, on Feb. 6, Oberweis spoke with the LaSalle County State’s Attorney Karen Donnelly, who is running for re-election.

According to an affidavit, Donnelly said she would donate $500 to the Jim 2020 Committee and he said he would donate to hers, based on a telephone conversation they had. On Feb. 10, The Friends of Karen Donnelly received a $1,000 check from Friends of Jim Oberweis, signed by Oberweis, according to the complain, an affidavit from Donnelly and a copy of the check.

Oberweis campaign spokesman Travis Akin said there is no record of a $500 donation from Donnelly.

Oberweis’ response to Rezin’s allegations last week was to dismiss them as “smear tactics.”

“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,” according to his statement then.

In a statement just released, Oberweis said he reached out to Donnelly at the request of a friend in Kendall County, to talk about helping her campaign because he had been told she was a good conservative candidate and needed some fundraising help.

“The very day we talked – I mailed her a check,” according to Oberweis’ statement.

“At no point was there any quid pro quo that Donnelly would contribute to my campaign. I have donated to Republican candidates my entire adult life and the donation to Donnelly was no exception,” according to Oberweis’ statement.

He had hoped she might attend one of his events or contribute to his campaign, but that was never a requirement or a condition for her to receive my contribution, according to his statement.

“I would not be a good candidate if I did not ask others to help our campaign. It is a shame that something that was done as a favor to help a fellow Republican win has been so greatly distorted,” according to the statement. “Our campaign has not received any contribution from Donnelly nor was there an expectation then or now that she would contribute though at one point, she did indicate she would consider doing so.”

“Our campaign continues to gain traction because we are focused on the issues that voters care about – border security, health care and taxes. After the primary election, I am looking forward to working with all the Republican elected officials and Republican voters in this district to defeat Lauren Underwood and her political mentor, Nancy Pelosi,” according to the statement.

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