Terra Costa Howard campaign for 48th in violation of state election laws, complaint says
Campaign reports show that Democratic candidate for the 48th state House seat, Terra Costa Howard, appears to be downplaying the involvement of an abortion-rights group in her campaign; and in so doing, has violated Illinois’ Campaign Disclosure Act on numerous occasions.
A complaint filed against Howard’s candidate committee, Friends of Terra Costa Howard, with the Illinois State Board of Elections centers around Personal PAC, a group that supports legal abortion up until the moment of birth. The PAC has funded a website, a Facebook page and mailers slamming Costa’s opponent, state Rep. Peter Breen (R-Lombard), the Republican House floor leader, but the complaint shows that public disclosure of the funding as required by law has been sketchy and deceptive.
The website, www.comecleanbreen.com, went live in January, and it “falsely reports to be an effort of a ‘nonpartisan group of concerned residents across Lombard, Glen Ellyn, Lisle, Downers Grove and Wheaton,’” the complaint says. The website says that it’s sponsored by Personal PAC, Men for Choice, and Equality Illinois PAC, “but does not disclose the Personal PAC paid for the website.”
An affiliated Facebook page with negative information about Breen, also under the banner of “Come Clean Breen,” appeared in February. The page’s “About” section says that it’s a nonpartisan group of concerned citizens from Lombard, Glen Ellyn, Lisle, Downers Grove and Wheaton. It likewise does not disclose that Personal PAC financed the page and its contents, the complaint says.
In March, Personal PAC paid for a mailer that claims that Breen does not represent the values of Lombard, Glen Ellyn, Lisle, Downers Grove and Wheaton. The mailer also encourages recipients to get more information at www.comecleanbreen.com.
Personal PAC insists that the money it has spent delivering its anti-Breen message constitutes in-kind contributions to the Howard campaign.
But a review of Board of Elections records shows that the Howard campaign never disclosed the in-kind contribution for the mailer, or additional in-kind contributions totaling thousands of dollars.
“Howard has taken the position that disclosure is unnecessary because the expenditures were unsolicited, and allegedly never received,” the complaint says.
Personal PAC, moreover, has included the expenditures as in-kind contributions in its D-2 forms (a summary page used to file a quarterly report or a final report with the board), “but has not filed any report in the nature of a B-1 (stand-alone report) that would have provided individuals in the 48th Representative District the requisite disclosure as to the Website, the Facebook page and the mailer.”
Finally, the complaint contains a long list of direct contributions that the Howard campaign failed to disclose under the time frame required by law. The complaint is asking the board to fine the “Friends of Terra Costa Howard” for being in violation of the Election Code.
Personal PAC spends millions each election cycle in both direct and in-kind contributions. It backs only those candidates who are in lockstep with its position that abortion should be available at any stage of pregnancy.