Judy Baar Topinka

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Judy Baar Topinka
Judy Baar Topinka.jpg
Illinois Comptroller
Former officeholder
In office
January 10, 2011 - December 9, 2014
PredecessorDaniel Hynes (D)
Base salary$135,669
Elections and appointments
Last electionNovember 4, 2014
First electedNovember 2, 2010
Campaign $$18,011,584
Term limitsN/A
Prior offices
Illinois Treasurer
1994 - 2006
Illinois State Senate
1984 - 1994
Illinois House of Representatives
1980 - 1984
High schoolFerry Hall High School (1962)
Bachelor'sNorthwestern University (1966)
Date of birthJanuary 16, 1944
Place of birthRiverside, Illinois
Office website
Campaign website
Judy Baar Topinka (b. January 16, 1944, in Riverside, Illinois) is the former Illinois state comptroller. She was the first woman elected to the office and served from January 2011 until her death on December 9, 2014. Topinka passed away due to complications from a stroke suffered on December 8.[1] Topinka previously served as Illinois Treasurer from 1994 to 2007.[2]

On September 17, 2013, Topinka announced that she would run for a second term as state comptroller.[3] By the time Topinka launched her 2014 re-election campaign, she had already drawn a prominent challenge from Democratic Illinois Lieutenant Governor Sheila Simon.[4] Topinka and Simon secured their parties' respective nominations without opposition in the March 18 primary and faced off in the general election on November 4, 2014. Judy Baar Topinka won the general election on November 4, 2014.


Topinka was born in Riverside, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago.[2]

Topinka worked as a journalist, founded a public relations firm, served as Public Affairs Executive for the American Medical Association and was a public relations advisor to a number of political candidates and organizations.[5]


  • B.S., Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism, 1966

Political career

Illinois Comptroller (2011-2014)

Topinka was elected as Illinois Comptroller in 2010, making her the only woman to be elected to two state constitutional offices.[2] She served until her death on December 9, 2014.[1]


Topinka and Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford said they planned to flex their muscle as the state’s fiscal officers following the 2010 election, with an aim at Gov. Pat Quinn’s borrowing. Quinn had called borrowing one of his “budget pillars,” yet the state treasurer and comptroller must sign-off on short term borrowing, according to Illinois state law.

“I have a number of questions about any type of short term borrowing,” Topinka said. “What will the money be used for, how long will it be out, and is there money for the state to pay it back?”

Topinka said she would not issue blank checks to the governor. Rutherford thought he had a mandate to be tough and that voters picked Republicans to hold the fiscal offices of the state for a reason.

“[One] thing that I think is going to be impactful is to have people who are willing to articulate what may be a differing opinion on the finances of the state.”

Rutherford said that not all borrowing is bad, but he did worry about Illinois’ mounting debt and the state’s ability to repay debt.[6]

Expired nominations

Eric Madiar, chief legal counsel to Senate President John Cullerton, sent a letter to Baar Topinka in early January 2011, pointing out that 38 gubernatorial nominations expired with the closing of the previous General Assembly, and therefore should not be paid a salary or expenses.

Fifteen salaried and 23 unsalaried positions were up in the air in January 2011, including those of interim Illinois State Police Director Jonathon Monken and interim Illinois Commerce Commission Chair Manuel Flores.

“We in the new Senate cannot take action on that old paperwork. There is no paperwork supporting those individuals to be in office today,” said Madiar.[7]

Criticism for raises

Topinka, along with Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford, came under criticism in September 2011 for giving pay raises during a fiscal crisis. Topinka gave 56 employees raises of at least 3 percent and several employees raises up to 15 percent. Rutherford gave out 19 raises, with an average increase of 16 percent. The issue came to light by an analysis of payroll records by the Better Government Association, a Chicago nonprofit group.[8]

Illinois Treasurer (1994-2007)

Topinka was the first woman to serve as Illinois Treasurer. She was also the only treasurer to be re-elected to three consecutive terms.[2]

Illinois State Senate (1984–1994)

Topinka served in the Illinois State Senate for a decade.[2]

Illinois House of Representatives (1980-1984)

Topinka served two terms in the Illinois House of Representatives, representing the Western suburbs.[2]



See also: Illinois down ballot state executive elections, 2014

Topinka ran for election to the office of Illinois Comptroller in 2014.[3]

Topinka was uncontested in the March 18 Republican primary. She faced Democratic incumbent Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon in the general election. Libertarian Julie Fox was also on the ballot. Judy Baar Topinka won the general election on November 4, 2014.


Illinois Controller, 2014
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngJudy Baar Topinka Incumbent 49.6% 1,775,983
     Democratic Sheila Simon 45.7% 1,636,593
     Libertarian Julie Fox 4.8% 170,534
     Nonpartisan Write-in votes 0% 176
Total Votes 3,583,286
Election Results via Illinois State Board of Elections.


Topinka won election as comptroller in the November 2, 2010 election.[9]

Illinois State Comptroller, General Election, 2010
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngJudy Baar Topinka 52.6% 1,927,139
     Democratic David E. Miller 40.9% 1,497,263
     Libertarian Julie Fox 3.3% 121,068
     Green R. Erika Schafer 3.2% 116,712
Total Votes 3,662,182
Election Results via Follow the Money

Issue positions

On her 2010 campaign website, Topinka listed three main issues:[10]

  • Taxpayer Advocacy and Protection
  • "Create a “whistle-blower hotline” for concerned taxpayers and state employees to call and report abuse and waste."
  • "Enhance the contract and grant review process to stop wasteful spending before it occurs, ensuring that all state contracts are properly bid and awarded."
  • "Provide more checks and balances on state spending by establishing a process to more thoroughly review contracts and grants before they are approved and payments are made."
  • Transparency and Accountability:
  • "Be a tireless fiscal watchdog and taxpayer advocate as keeper of the public checkbook."
  • "Ensure transparency about state spending and finances through redesigned and more user-friendly public website."
  • "Publish contractual procurement and grant award information, including the descriptions of deliverables, so the public can review how state money is being spent."
  • A Renewed Commitment to Service:
  • "Provide enhanced services to constituents through the creation of a constituent services hotline."
  • "Assist small businesses, minority and women-owed businesses and businesses that pay a prevailing wage obtain state contracting opportunities by making information about the contract process available free of charge; thereby encouraging greater competition for public contracts to reduce costs and ensure that taxpayers get the highest quality service at the lowest possible price."
  • "Work to re-establish a rainy day fund to have for use in tough economic times like today."

Campaign donors

Comprehensive donor information for Topinka is available dating back to 1996. Based on available campaign finance records, Topinka raised a total of $18,011,584 during that time period. This information was last updated on July 10, 2013.[11]

Judy Baar Topinka's Campaign Contribution History
Year Office Result Contributions
2012 Illinois Comptroller Not up for election $297,502
2010 Illinois Comptroller Won $981,408
2006 Governor of Illinois Defeated $10,299,839
2004 Illinois Treasurer Not up for election $1,052,519
2002 Illinois Treasurer Won $3,301,878
2000 Illinois Treasurer Not up for election $661,065
1998 Illinois Treasurer Won $870,945
1996 Illinois Treasurer Not up for election $546,428
Grand Total Raised $18,011,584

2002 and 2010

Ballotpedia collects information on campaign donors for each year in which a candidate or incumbent is running for election. The following table offers a breakdown of Judy Baar Topinka's donors each year.[12] Click [show] for more information.


State of the State response

In January 2014, Topinka gave a response to Governor Pat Quinn's 2014 State of the State address and Quinn's agenda for a new building program for Illinois, new early childhood education initiatives and a higher minimum wage. Topinka responded that Quinn would have to give further detail on how to pay for his proposed programs. “If (the 2011 temporary income tax increase) does not hold, that’s like a $5 billion hit on the budget,” Topinka said. “There really has to be some attention paid to the finances of the state.”[13]

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See also

External links

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  1. 1.0 1.1 [http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/chi-illinois-comptroller-judy-baar-topinka-dies-at-age-70-20141210-story.html?track=rss Chicago Tribune, "Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka dies at age 70 ," December 10, 2014]
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 State of Illinois Comptroller, "Comptrollers Biography," accessed September 15, 2012
  3. 3.0 3.1 Judy Baar Topinka 2014 Official campaign website, "Press release:TOPINKA DELIVERS ‘COMMON SENSE’ TO MT. VERNON, LAUNCHES CAMPAIGN," September 17, 2013
  4. CBS Local - Chicago, "2014 Governor Candidates To Choose Running Mates," August 24, 2013
  5. Project Vote Smart, "Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka's Biography," accessed September 19, 2012
  6. "New Ill. GOP comptroller, treasurer: no blank checks for Dem gov’s borrowing," Illinois Statehouse News, November 10, 2010
  7. "Senate looks to clear out expired nominations," Illinois Statehouse News, January 18, 2011
  8. Better Government Association, "Rutherford, Topinka Give Raises to Top Employees," September 26, 2011
  9. Illinois Board of Elections, "November 2010 General Election Results," accessed April 2, 2011
  10. Citizens for Judy Baar Topinka, "Issues," accessed September 19, 2012 (dead link) (dead link)
  11. Follow the Money, "Career fundraising for Judy Baar Topinka," accessed July 10, 2013
  12. Follow the Money.org, "Home," accessed February 17, 2015
  13. WatchDog.org, "Illinois governor lays out ambitious agenda, forgets to mention how to pay for it," accessed February 6, 2014
Political offices
Preceded by
Daniel Hynes (D)
Illinois Comptroller
Succeeded by
Jerry Stermer