A political consulting firm owned by the Illinois Manufacturing Association and run by its longtime lobbyist and chief executive, Greg Baise, collected a record $1.91 million in fees during the first quarter of 2018, according to filings with the Illinois State Board of Elections (ISBE).
Xpress Professional Services, known as XPS, earned the fees providing media and strategy consulting and polling services to candidates engaged in primaries, including Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, House Republican Leader Jim Durkin, Republican Attorney General candidate Erika Harold, Chicago Mayoral hopeful Garry McCarthy and four Democrat candidates running for the Cook County board.
The total -- in a single quarter -- represents more than XPS earned in Illinois over the previous five years combined, according to an analysis of ISBE records.
House Republican Leader Jim Durkin
XPS has earned $1.8 million total between 2013 and 2017 in Illinois.
The company's previous single-year high water mark was $1.672 million in 2006. XPS earned $692,655 in 2014, the last gubernatorial election year, according to the ISBE.
Baise, of west suburban Burr Ridge, has run the Illinois Manufacturing Association (IMA) since 1991. He started XPS as a for-profit IMA subsidiary in 2004. ISBE records show the company has earned $8.7 million in Illinois since its creation.
XPS includes We Ask America, a widely respected polling firm run by Gregg Durham of Springfield, formerly an aide to then-State Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka.
Rauner, Durkin, Democrats
Baise's hiring last summer of former Rauner Chief of Staff Mike Zolnierowicz to run XPS' political operations has paid dividends.
ISBE records show at least $680,000 of XPS' fees came from Durkin, a close Rauner ally who relies on the governor for financial support. In addition to working for Durkin, XPS did work for state House candidates Andrew Chesney, Blaine Wilhour, Char Kegarsie, Eddie Corrigan, Patrick Windhorst, Jeff Keicher, Karen Feldman and Matt Grandone.
Baise has publicly backed Rauner in his battles with party conservatives.
XPS doesn't only work for Republicans.
It received $765,988 for work on behalf of Cook County Board of Commissioner candidates, Democrats Richard Boykin, John Fritchey, Stanley Moore and Dennis Deer.
Boykin and Fritchey lost; Moore and Deer won.
All four opposed Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle's "pop tax."
XPS also did work for Schenectady, New York Mayor Gary McCarthy, who paid them $2,200.
Baise served as an aide to Republican Illinois Gov. Jim Thompson and ran his re-election effort in 1986. He ran for state treasurer unsuccessfully in 1990.
Xpress Professional Services Illinois' Revenue
The Illinois Manufacturing Association's political consulting arm saw a spike in revenue during the first quarter of 2018.
Source: Illinois State Board of Elections
*2018 numbers only track first quarter of the year, through March 31, 2018.