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Monday, September 24, 2018

Cook County $750 Political Contribution Limit Upheld

Cook County has enacted an ethics ordinance governing various activities involving Cook County elected and appointed officials and employees. That ordinance also places a $750 cap on political contributions by individuals and companies that do business with Cook County. After being fined by the Cook County Ethics Commission for receiving political contributions in excess of the ethics ordinance, Cook County Assessor John Berrios filed a lawsuit to challenge the ordinance, claiming that the ordinance exceeded the County's home rule powers, infringed on First Amendment protected speech, denied candidates due process, and violated public policy, among other allegations.

The circuit court ruled in favor of the County, rejecting Berrios challenges to the ethics ordinance. Berrios appealed, and the appellate court also upheld the ordinance. Berrios v. Cook County Board of Commissioners, 2018 IL (1st) 180654. The appellate court found the ordinance did not violate or impinge on any First Amendment protected rights. The court also found the County was not preempted by state election law in enacting its own stricter political contribution limits. Finally, the court determined that the ordinance did not violate Berrios' due process rights, rejecting his "selective enforcement" argument.

Post Authored by Julie Tappendorf


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