An article referenced in this story regarding Regan Deering’s views on “means testing” for Medicare and Social Security was recently corrected. This story has been updated to reflect that correction.

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) – Republican candidate for Illinois’ 13th congressional district Regan Deering called out her Democratic opponent, Nikki Budzinski, over money she made as a consultant after leaving Governor Pritzker’s administration. 

This came after the Better Government Association reported that Budzinski received more than $500,000 from a lobbyist and progressive organizations that don’t disclose where their money comes from, often referred to as “dark money.”

“While there may not be any official laws broken yet, she always seems to be just outside the door of corruption,” Deering said during a news conference Monday.

Budzinski worked for Pritzker on both his campaign and his administration from 2017 to 2020. She then formed her own consulting firm before being appointed to President Biden’s transition team. 

According to the BGA, of the more than $500,000 Budzinski received, more than $80,000 came from a Springfield lobbyist Budzinski became close to while working for Pritzker. 

Current state law prohibits state employees from working in lobbying jobs for at least a year after they leave their position in government. Her consulting firm is not considered a lobbying job. 

“Nikki has always taken state and federal ethics laws very seriously, and will continue to do so if elected to Congress,” a spokesperson for Budzinski’s campaign said in a statement. “After Nikki left government, she was never a lobbyist, never registered as a state or federal lobbyist, and she complied with all ethics laws.”

While there is no evidence of wrongdoing, Deering, a business owner, accused Budzinski, who has campaigned on eliminating dark money in politics, of prioritizing her position over the people she’s running to represent.

“Voters should care because elected representatives are supposed to represent the people and not themselves, and she is clearly a political insider that is using her position to further her career,” Deering said. 

Rep. Rodney Davis, the Republican currently representing parts of the newly redistricted 13th district, which includes parts of Springfield, Champaign-Urbana, Decatur and Edwardsville, and State Rep. Avery Bourne (R-Morrisonville) also joined Deering during the news conference. Davis agreed with Deering’s remarks.

“Voters should have serious questions about her motives, what kind of issues she’s pushing behind the scenes, and whether her personal work and connections will trump her responsibility to her constituents,” Davis said.

Bourne called on Budzinski to be more transparent about her time as a consultant.

“Voters deserve full transparency from the Budzinski campaign, and she needs to take ethics laws seriously and ethical standards seriously, and voters deserve to have that transparency,” Bourne said. 

Deering also made headlines this week when asked about limits or alterations to Social Security and Medicare. Deering said she has heard discussions about “means testing,” which could reduce those benefits for wealthier people.

Deering added that wealthy people may be willing to “sacrifice” their benefits to ensure that more money goes to people who need it the most.