With the primary election less than two weeks away, the Democratic campaign for the 18th Legislative District is focused on campaign contributions. Candidates Robyn Gabel, Patrick Keenan-Devlin, Edmund Moran Jr., and Jeff Smith are seeking the Democratic nomination for state representative in the Feb. 2 primary. 

On Jan. 21 Mr. Kelly called on Mr. Keenan-Devlin to “deliver on his campaign promises by returning a $45,000 donation” from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, AFSCME, union. Information from the Keenan-Devlin campaign posted on the website of the Illinois State Board of Elections shows contributions of $45,000 in cash and $21,000 in in-kind donations from the union. 

In a prepared statement, Mr. Kelly said, “The $66,935 donation is more than six times the new – but not yet effective – limits of SB1466. … I call on all candidates to join me in honoring these limits.” 

Mr. Kelly told the RoundTable he was not concerned about the source of the contributions but about the amount. “It’s a problem because we need independent legislators. … We’re an independent community, and [all the candidates] have talked about reform. I expect all candidates to live up to the standards of this community. 

“You cannot be a force for change when you are beholden to special interests,” Mr. Kelly added. 

Mr. Keenan-Devlin told the RoundTable he was “very proud – not ashamed, as Eamon would like me to be – to have the support and endorsement of the unions. … We’re Democrats, and I truly believe that labor unions are the heart of the Democratic and progressive [movements]. … I received that endorsement and support because of my track record and my commitment to fighting for working families.” 

He added, “Anyone can look at my statements before and after I received the contributions and see there is no difference.” 

The $21,000 of in-kind contributions, Mr. Keenan-Devlin said, represented “staff.”

He also said the contribution of $45,000 “comes from nearly 500 members of AFSCME Council 31 who live in Evanston” which, he said, would average out to about $100 per family. 

Mr. Smith told the RoundTable he was troubled about the “size of the contribution and the scale of what the money buys.”  He also said, “I think the people in this district want to choose their own representative and have a strong resistance to anybody’s telling them who their representative should be.”

Mr. Moran told the RoundTable, “The revelation that Patrick Keenan-Devlin has received $67,000.00 of assistance from AFSCME, a public employee union, shows that, rather than the ‘New Way’ Patrick is promising to take Illinois, he really means the ‘Old Way.’

“He has been bought by AFSCME.  He can never say no to them.  He cannot claim to be able to be ‘independent.’  He is an ‘old-school Illinois politician’ cloaked  in a youthful,cheery costume.” 

Josh Kilroy of Ms. Gabel’s campaign said Ms. Gabel had “no comment. … We’re focused on getting Robyn’s message out and not on the other candidates.”

Mary Gavin

Mary Gavin is the founder of the Evanston RoundTable. After 23 years as its publisher and manager, she helped transition the RoundTable to nonprofit status in 2021. She continues to write, edit, mentor...