Rep. Mike Quigley’s campaign spending drops, Democratic party still benefits

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Mike Quigley's most recent official photograph.

Due to a lack of competition in his last two races, Democratic Rep. Mike Quigley has had the ability to spend significant portions of his campaign finances to help the Democratic party and lower his overall disbursements.

During the 2017-2018 election cycle, Quigley’s spending reached over $1.2 million, and in the 2019-2020 cycle totaled just under $1 million, according to the FEC (Federal Election Commission). In both elections, Quigley dominated the voting and won in an unsurprising and comfortable fashion against his Republican counterpart Tom Hanson. 

In each of the two election cycles, one of Quigley’s top expenditures was the DCCC (Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee). His contributions toward the DCCC totaled $70,000 in the 2017-2018 cycle and boomed to $295,000 in the 2019-2020 cycle, totaling his highest dispersal. The DCCC is “the only political committee in the country whose principal mission is to support Democratic House candidates every step of the way,” according to their website

Donating such large portions to the DCCC, “is me being a good teammate,” said Rep. Mike Quigley in a phone interview on October 3, 2021. “Those donations assist in getting existing and new Democratic people elected to congress. If you want to keep the majority in the House, you donate to them because they will recruit people to run for open seats or against existing Republicans while also helping representatives from tight districts continue to get elected.”

As the former Illinois Treasurer and current candidate for Illinois Secretary of State, Alexi Giannoulias has significant experience in the world of campaign finances and disbursements. In a phone interview on October 6, 2021, he noted that, “I am also a team player, and not only is it the right thing to do and help others who are like-minded, but it is also the right thing to do politically because it can help pass legislation.”

Moreover, Quigley made 41 payments of $1,000 to other Democratic congressional candidates’ campaigns during the last election cycle, according to Open Secrets, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization in Washington DC that analyzes campaign finance and lobbying data. 

Quigley’s contributions to organizations like the DCCC and other candidates “builds a good rapport with other candidates because you never know when you are going to have a tight race and it always helps to have support if that happens,” noted Giannoulias. 

Quigley has also benefited from uncompetitive races by having the ability to hold back on his campaign spending. “It allows you to save your money and build it up, so that if you do get into a tight race, you have a good war chest to address it,” said Quigley. 

His total expenditures decreased by over $300,000 in the last two cycles and his spending pace for the upcoming cycle suggests the same trend as he has spent just under $160,000, according to the FEC.

Quigley also spends a considerable amount of his campaign finances on fundraising consultants. In the 2020 cycle, his allocations toward fundraising consultants totaled $338,028, according to the FEC. The largest disbursements went toward New Chicago Consulting, a Chicago-based political consulting group, and The Frost Group, a political consulting group specializing in campaign, PAC and non-profit fundraising. In total, these two groups received 50 payments for a total of just under $270,000.   

“The consulting firms are very important to our fundraising. New Chicago Consulting, for example, is local and helps me raise money locally and manage my local campaigns,” said Quigley. 

“Those groups help you do call time, organize events and do a lot of the administrative work, which is crucial,” noted Giannoulias. 

Another one of Quigley’s largest disbursements was for fundraising events. Payments for these events ranged from just under $25,000 toward Wrigleyville Rooftops for Chicago Cubs games to about $5,000 for two events at the Lincoln Park Zoo, according to Quigley and the FEC

“We invite a bunch of people to these fundraisers who are likely to donate or have donated before. These people have a lot of choices to make, so part of it is to make the events inviting so a person gets to be surrounded by like-minded donors, which creates a camaraderie, and it makes it fun for them when you can do it somewhere like Wrigley Field,” said Quigley. 

“Having good fundraising events is crucial and having those aspects that make the events desirable contributes to the sheer volume of attendance and dollars you can raise,” noted Giannoulias. 

As Quigley seeks reelection for the seventh time to represent Illinois’ 5th District, he is planning to follow the winning strategy he’s developed: supporting the Democratic party, utilizing fundraising consultants and events and saving up for future contested elections. 

Quigley’s reduction in spending during this cycle would suggest he is gearing up for another uncompetitive race that will allow him to continue to support the Democratic party and build up his campaign finances. However, as this election and future elections near, he will find out whether he will be able to follow the same spending strategy from recent years or if he will finally need to dip into the “war chest” he has developed.

“We are close to having new congressional maps drawn, so circumstances can change in the blink of an eye. I ran a lot of campaigns before I ran for the first time, so I know a lot of talented people and if I get a competitive race we gear up and assess what our spending strategy will be, but in the meantime the constant is continuing to raise money,” said Quigley.

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