Lawmakers raise funds for care of former colleague

Members of Congress are rallying around one of their own, collecting donations to help former Rep. Lane Evans (D-Ill.) as he battles Parkinson's Disease.

Since retiring from Congress in 2006, Evans has received round-the-clock care at an assisted living facility near his hometown of Rock Island. But money is tight, and two of Evans's longtime colleagues are working to raise money to keep him in the best care.

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Those members, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Rep. Phil Hare (D-Ill.), wrote to colleagues seeking contributions to an account dedicated to Evans's needs.

"Currently, Lane continues to battle the progression of this horrible disease with the help of 24 hour nursing care provided at an assisted living facility near his hometown. It is care that has allowed him to enjoy his retirement with a decent quality of life," Durbin and Hare wrote.

"Unfortunately, Lane’s financial situation currently puts this care at risk. Mounting medical bills and the high-cost of constant care threaten the assistance he must have to deal with this debilitating illness. Unless funding is raised quickly to help supplement his current retirement income, he will be unable to maintain the level of care he both needs and deserves. Lane has always fought for us. Now it is time to return the favor."

Durbin and Evans were elected to neighboring House districts in 1982, and Durbin paid tribute to Evans in a Senate floor speech when Evans announced his retirement. Hare succeeded Evans in his Western Illinois district in 2006 after serving for years as Evans's chief of staff.

Durbin and Hare have set a goal of raising $100,000 towards Evans's care. So far, according to Federal Election Commission documents and estimates from both Durbin's and Hare's offices, about 30 members have contributed.

"Congressman Evans left a lot of friends here," said Tom O'Donnell, Hare's chief of staff. "When people heard about this situation, they just wanted to help."

Rep. John Larson (D-Conn.) has given $5,000, the reports show, while Reps. Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.) and Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) have chipped in $2,000 each. Reps. John Dingell (D-Mich.), Charles Gonzalez (D-Texas), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) and Mike Honda (D-Calif.) have each contributed $1,000.

The members are donating to a special account controlled by Evans's financial custodian. Hare and Durbin cleared the account with both the House and Senate ethics committees.