Rep. Mary Miller’s spending switches from salaries to marketing strategies

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Rep. Mary Miller's official photograph.

Mary Miller, Republican representative from the 15th District of Illinois, has spent $161,844 on her 2021-2022 cycle thus far, compared to $575,024 from her 2019-2020 campaign spending.

Many of Miller’s larger disbursements from her 2021-2022 cycle have gone to fundraising firms and campaign marketing strategy companies.

About 78% of the spending so far has been to HSP Direct, with $126,530 of her $161,844 total disbursements spent on the company, which does direct-mail for fundraising.

This large amount spent on fundraising and direct mail is quite common when candidates attempt to garner financial support, according to Brian Gaines, political science professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. 

“Candidates use a lot of different direct mail operations, lots of different vendors that kind of raise money for them sometimes in state, but a lot of the time if they’re trying to spend money on that, it is because they want to raise money out of state,” Gaines said. 

This cycle’s spending differs from her 2019-2020 cycle where 4.5% of her spending was listed to go to herself, her fifth-largest expenditure. These disbursements listed to herself consisted of loan repayments, which were listed in three separate disbursements totalling $10,000. According to Gaines, the spacing out of this loan repayment is a common occurrence. 

Her fourth-largest expenditure from this cycle was $30,611 on her campaign finance manager’s salary. 

The other $16,421 that went to Mary Miller was scattered amongst other reimbursements. 

Following FEC guidelines, when reimbursing, candidates are required to “identify the ultimate payee (the vendor) in a separate memo entry on Schedule B. Each memo entry must include the name and address of the vendor, as well as the date, amount and purpose of the payment.”

A reimbursement that totaled $13,825 and was dated March 23, 2020 was simply listed as an “expense reimbursement” while listing no specific information on what the reimbursement was for. The disbursement category available on the FEC website was “materials.” 

There was a similar occurrence with her second reimbursement totaling $2,595. She simply listed the reason as “reimbursement” with no specific data on what it was and the disbursement category reported was “other.” 

The full category disbursement code was also not listed for this disbursement, but it was for her other disbursements that were listed to go to herself. 

One specific company that FEC data shows Miller spent money on is listed as “Fundraising Inc.” However, when a search is done on the address the disbursement is listed to, it is shown to track back to High Cotton Consulting. This is a separate group Miller has also contributed to in smaller disbursements. 

In addition, Miller spent $33,600 on Durbin Consulting Group in 2020. The address listed under this disbursement belongs to Jose Durbin, the campaign manager of Darren Bailey, a republican candidate for governor. Bailey sued Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker over emergency orders last year and announced his run for governor in February of this year.

Gaines said that the consulting group appears to be one person who created an entire consulting group for tax purposes. Jose Durbin has not yet responded for further comment on this matter. 

Overall, Miller has switched from spending a majority of her money on salaries, loan repayments and consulting companies to shifting her spending towards direct mail fundraising and campaign marketing strategies.

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