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Lawsuit challenging campaign financing limits won't affect 2014

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SPRINGFIELD -- A federal lawsuit challenging Illinois' 2009 campaign finance law is unlikely to be settled before the end of the 2014 election season.

In a ruling issued earlier this week, U.S. District Judge Gary Feinerman dismissed most of a challenge to the landmark changes filed two years ago by the Liberty Justice Center.

Feinerman kept one piece of the case alive for further debate, potentially extending arguments between the Chicago-based group and Attorney General Lisa Madigan for several months.

That likely means the current caps on campaign contributions will remain in place through the rest of the 2014 election cycle.

"Its going to take a number of months to play out in this court. It seems relatively unlikely that it will be settled by November," said Jacob Huebert, attorney for the center, which is part of the conservative Illinois Policy Institute.

At issue is the group's contention that donation limits imposed in the wake of Rod Blagojevich's ouster are unconstitutional because contributions from legislative leaders are not capped in general elections.

By contrast, individuals, corporations and unions operate under contribution limits unless a candidate -- like Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner -- contributes large sums to himself, thus removing the caps for others in that particular race. A separate court ruling paved the way for super PACs, which also operate without limits.

In his ruling, Feinerman expressed some doubt that the group will succeed in overturning the law.

But he said he is keeping the case alive for the organization to more specifically outline its views on the subject. Along with the center, state Sen. Kyle McCarter, R-Lebanon, is a plaintiff in the case.

Good-government groups that support campaign limits have said it is important to keep the caps in place in a state where the last two governors have gone to jail for corruption.

kurt.erickson@lee.net|(217) 782-4043

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