Lane Evans

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Lane Evans

Lane A. Evans is a former, far left, Illinois congressman. He served from 1983 to 2007.


A native of Rock Island, Evans served in the United States Marine Corps during the Vietnam War, stationed in Okinawa. After leaving the Marines in 1971, Evans enrolled at Augustana College in Rock Island, graduating in 1974. He earned a Juris Doctor degree from Georgetown University in 1978 and began a successful law practice in Rock Island serving children, the poor and working families.[1]

Political career

In 1982, Evans ran for and won the Democratic nomination for Illinois' 17th District, which included most of Illinois' share of the Quad Cities area. It had been renumbered from the 19th District since Illinois lost two districts after the 1980 census. The district had been in Republican hands for all but two years since 1939. However, the brand of Republicanism that prevailed in the district had traditionally been a moderate one. Evans got a significant boost when 16-year incumbent Tom Railsback was defeated for renomination by a considerably more conservative Republican, State Senator Kenneth McMillan. Taking advantage of hardships from that year's recession, Evans won by just over 5 percentage points. He handily defeated McMillan in a 1984 rematch even in the midst of Ronald Reagan's gigantic landslide victory that year.[2]

Evans faced almost no opposition in his next four campaigns, reflecting the growing influence of Moline and Rock Island in what had once been a very rural district. In 1994, however, Evans only won by nine points over an unknown Republican who spent almost no money. This emboldened the Republicans for 1996, when Evans faced Mark Baker, an anchor at WGEM-TV in Quincy (the third-largest city in the district). Even though Bill Clinton carried the district by a healthy 30,000 votes, Evans defeated Baker by only five percentage points. A 1998 rematch was even closer, with Evans only winning by 6,000 votes. A third run by Baker in 2000 saw Evans win by almost 10 points. Redistricting after the 2000 census made Evans much safer. Decatur and part of Springfield were added while some more rural areas were taken out. The redistricting process, guided by House Speaker and 14th District Congressman Dennis Hastert and 3rd District Congressman Bill Lipinski solidified the holdings of many Illinois incumbents. Evans was re-elected in 2002 and 2004 by margins similar to those he scored in the 1980s and early 1990s.[3]

FEC investigation

Evans' was investigated by the Federal Elections Commission for a conspiracy to violate federal campaign finance laws in both his 1998 and 2000 campaigns that illegally funneled a half million dollars to his campaigns. He agreed to pay a $185,000 fine to the FEC as a result, but the agreement came without an admission of guilt. In the settlement, the FEC noted that personal prosecution of Evans was impossible because the statute of limitations had expired during the 5 year investigation of his complex scheme of illegal campaign funds.[4]

Parkinson's Disease

Evans has battled Parkinson's Disease since 1995. While his previous opponents, including Baker, didn't make an issue of it, his 2004 opponent, Andrea Zinga (a former anchorwoman at KWQC-TV and WQAD-TV in the Quad Cities) claimed he was not able to fully represent the members of his district due to his health concerns. However, this tactic backfired, and Evans won handily.[5]

Left voting record

During his tenure, Evans was one of the most liberal members of the House, and probably Illinois' most liberal congressman from outside Chicago. A founding member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, he had a near-perfect lifetime rating from Americans for Democratic Action, while the American Conservative Union gave him its lowest rating of any congressman outside Chicago. This would seem to be surprising, given that his district had a strong rural element. However, he had a reputation for strong constituent service. The 17th has a large number of Vietnam veterans who generally accepted his liberal social views due to his support for their interests. The Rock Island Arsenal is a major employer within the district. During his time in office, his support of the Arsenal helped keep it open while cuts were being made nationwide.[6]

DSA connections

Lane Evans was very close to Democratic Socialists of America.

DSA electoral support

Chicago Socialist. 0ct./Nov. 1982, election supplement

In 1982, Lane Evans was directly supported by Democratic Socialists of America members Monty Tarbox, and Bob Van Meter, in his Congressional campaign.

Chicago DSA dinner

In 1985 Vicky Starr was honored with a Debs-Thomas-Harrington Award at an event that featured fellow Democratic Socialists of America member and then Screen Actors Guild President Ed Asner, and keynote speaker Congressman Lane Evans. In the years since, she remained a faithful patron of the dinner, attending nearly every one.[7]

New Directions conference


In May 1986, Democratic Socialists of America "supported" a New Directions conference in the Washington DC Convention Center. Conference organizer was Jo-Ann Mort of DSA.

The conference, supported by DSA, will bring together activists, analysts and elected officials to develop new directions for the Democratic Party and the broad democratic left.

Initial sponsors of the event included Reps. Charles Hayes and Barney Frank, labor leaders William Winpisinger and Jack Sheinkman (ACTWU), Joyce Miller (ACTWU and CLUW) and Jack Joyce, (Bricklayers), feminist leaders Gloria Steinem and Judy Goldsmith and policy analysts Robert Kuttner, Jeff Faux and Eleanor Holmes Norton.

Lane Evans addressed the conference.

"Living Wage, Jobs for all Act"


In 1995, Nancy Pelosi, Bernie Sanders, David Bonior, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Cynthia McKinney, Maurice Hinchey, Major Owens, Nydia Velasquez, John Conyers, Bob Filner, Alcee Hastings, Lane Evans, Edolphus Towns, Jim McDermott, supported Democratic Socialists of America member rep. Ron Dellums' "Living Wage, Jobs for all Act"

DSA endorsement

In July 1996, the Democratic Socialists of America Political Action Committee endorsed Lane Evans, Illinois 7 , in that year's Congressional elections.[8]

21st Century Democrats

21st Century Democrats is a political organization that has stood for Progressive causes for over 20 years. Founded in 1986 by Senator Tom Harkin, Texas Agriculture Secretary Jim Hightower, and Congressman Lane Evans, 21st Century Democrats has helped elect progressive politicians such as U.S. Senator Tim Johnson, U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer, U.S. Senator Russ Feingold, and U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley. Its three main goals are to help elect progressive candidates, train young people about grassroots organizing, and lastly, to continue to support our elected officials after Election Day "through our comprehensive progressive network".

The mission of 21st Century Democrats is to build a "farm team" of progressive populists who will be the future leaders of the Democratic Party.[9]

Evans was supported by his own organization in 1998.

Supporting "Veteran's fast for life"

Lane Evans addresses the press conference

On September 1st, 1986, four veterans began a water-only "fast for life" on the Capitol steps in Washington, D.C. They wanted to to draw attention to, and to protest, President Reagan's "illegal and extraordinarily vicious wars against the poor of Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Guatemala."


The veterans were;

The veterans believed that the President's explicit policy of directing the contra terrorists in Nicaragua to commit wanton murder and destruction, enabled by appropriations passed by a majority of members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, amounted to grotesque, unconscionable violent behavior in violation of both U.S. Constitutional and international law, and the egregious breach of the human rights of virtually all Nicaraguan citizens. The veterans believed that the President was clearly vulnerable to Constitutional impeachment, and that all members of the Senate and House of Representatives should have been subjected to criminal prosecution under international law as well, whether they were re-elected or not.

On October 7 several U.S Congressmen and Senators spoke at a press conference in support of the faster's cause. They included Senator Charles Mathias (R-MD), Claiborne Pell (D-RI), Don Edwards (D-CA), Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA), Leon Panetta (D-CA), Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Senator John Kerry (D-MA), David Bonior (D-MI), Lane Evans (D-Illinois), Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT).[10]

Tribute to Golub and Montgomery

ON November 16, 1989, Lane Evans served on the Tribute Committee for the Chicago Committee to Defend the Bill of Rights Tribute to Leon Golub and Lucy Montgomery, held at the Congress Hotel, Chicago.[11]

"Congressional Pink Caucus"

In October 1989 the Nicaraguan Sandinista Government announced that they would no longer comply with the 19 month-old cease-fire agreement with the Contras. This had been considered a prime step forward for the "peace process" that was progressing slowly as part of the Arias Peace Plan.

A resolution was introduced in Congress deploring the Sandinistas' action. The Senate voted unanimously in favor, but in the House the vote was 379-29. All the 29 Congressmen voting against the resolution were Democrats.

The Council for Inter-American Security dubbed these 29 people the "Congressional Pink Caucus":

Supported by Council for a Livable World

The Council for a Livable World, founded in 1962 by long-time socialist activist and alleged Soviet agent, Leo Szilard, is a non-profit advocacy organization that seeks to "reduce the danger of nuclear weapons and increase national security", primarily through supporting progressive, congressional candidates who support their policies. The Council supported Lane Evans in his successful House of Representatives run as candidate for Illinois.[12]

Illinois Public Action

In 1996 members of the 120 strong board[13]of Illinois Public Action included Quentin Young, Congressmen Luis Gutierrez and Lane Evans, Chicago alderman Joe Moore and Peoria alderman Frank McNeil, State Senator Alice Palmer, State Representative Jan Schakowsky and Cook County Clerk David Orr.

Citizen Action of Illinois

In 1997 Congressman Lane Evans served on the board of directors of Citizen Action of Illinois.[14]

Congressional Progressive Caucus

The Congressional Progressive Caucus was founded in 1991 by freshman Congressman Bernie Sanders. Sanders' CPC co-founders included House members Ron Dellums, Lane Evans, Tom Andrews, Peter DeFazio, and Maxine Waters.

In 1998 Lane Evans, Democrat was listed as a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.[15]

Obama supporter

Lane Evans, Barack Obama, The Cherry Street Restaurant and Bar, Galesburg, 2003

Barack Obama was in 1997 or 98 at a fundraiser for Lane Evans at the home of Marjorie Benton in Evanston.[16]

Congressman Lane Evans brought a young State Senator to Galesburg Illinois in late 2003 and said he was supporting Barack Obama in his run for the U.S. Senate. Evans was the highest ranking official in Illinois to support Obama and took him throughout his district to introduce him to downstaters -- starting in Galesburg. Evans, who was forced to retire from Congress because of his advancing Parkinson's Disease, joined Obama and his closest friends and advisors to watch election returns in Chicago on November 4th 2008. Obama reportedly told Lane, "I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for you." [17]

Creamer connection

Lane Evans for Congress has been a client of Robert Creamer's Strategic Consulting Group.[18]