TILLMAN, PROFT BUCKLE UNDER QUESTIONING
Chicago, IL – Freedom of speech has prevailed despite attempts by some so-called political leaders in Illinois to stop it. After Illinois Citizens for Ethics Reform released its flowchart on the Illinois Policy Institute’s shady operations this week, the Springfield Journal Register and its syndicates raised red flags over the activities of John Tillman and Dan Proft.
Neither Tillman nor Proft handled it well when they were questioned about the Illinois Policy Institute, its dubious political action committees, donors, and Tillman and Proft’s legal relationship with the organizations.
Last month, the Springfield Journal Register asked Tillman about his role in three political action committees all with ties to the tax-exempt Illinois Policy Institute; Tillman quickly said he was resigning from all of them.
But political reporter, Bernard Schoenburg has caught Tillman again. Schoenburg noted:
Not long after that conversation, at least $50,000 moved to various political committees from another organization called the Illinois Opportunity Project. It is not a political action committee, so it’s not possible to track its major donors via the State Board of Elections website, as can be done with PACs. Tillman is one of five board members on the Illinois Opportunity Project.
“These donations … were all made in full compliance with the law and properly disclosed, which is why you are aware of them!” said Tillman when questioned.
Tillman said that he can “wear different hats,” just as does House Speaker Michael Madigan D-Chicago, who also chairs the Democratic Party of Illinois and an ideal role model for a “conservative” policy leader who claims a reform agenda.
Proft said he hoped he wouldn’t fall down the path of Illinois’ long list of convicted criminals like Ed Vrdolyak and Rod Blagojevich.
In the story, Proft admitted he was a paid consultant to the Illinois Opportunity Project, which recently contributed $10,000 to Proft for Governor and $20,000 to his organization, Liberty PAC. Illinois Opportunity Project is listed in Illinois State Board of Elections records as residing at the Illinois Policy Institute, a 501c3 organization.
Are your eyes blurry yet?
Many Illinois conservatives have been angered by Tillman, Proft and their surrogates for working AGAINST conservative and tea party candidates in the primary election this past March. Tillman and Proft seeded establishment or unknown candidates with thousands of dollars shuffled through the Illinois Policy Institute and its political action committees.
Tea party groups have begun to disinvite Proft from speaking engagements. Illinois Citizens for Ethics Reform has been covering the leaked emails that reveal a pattern of Proft bullying tea party leaders.
CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ILLINOIS CITIZENS FOR ETHICS REFORM STORY AND FLOWCHART
The first in a series of investigative reports from Illinois Citizens for Ethics Reform
Chicago, Illinois – The so-called “conservative” Illinois Policy Institute has racked up contributor dollars as a reform-minded policy think tank dedicated to change. But like Media Matters for America, the Illinois-based 501c3 tax-exempt organization’s political and financial activities raise serious red flags about its operations and intentions and those of its questionable key players, John Tillman, Dan Proft, Andy McKenna, and Patrick Hughes. Hughes, Proft, and McKenna have run previously for statewide public office.
Utilizing its 501c3 status, Illinois Policy Institute raises millions of dollars researching and publishing policy positions on a myriad of issues, ranging from ethics in government to waste, fraud, and abuse of Illinois taxpayer dollars to campaign finance reform.
In order to qualify, a 501c3 organization must pass a series of requirements. Once granted 501c3 status, organizations pay no federal income tax and donors may deduct their charitable contributions because the IRS presumes that these “charitable” organizations benefit the public. But a 501c3 organization may not “participate in any campaign activity for or against political candidates.”
Critics have charged that Illinois Policy Institute is merely a corrupt front group organized to farm donor lists, form and manage political action committees, and advance the political ambitions of its Board of Directors.
A flowchart of the organization’s activities and affiliations raises a number of questions and spotlights the hypocrisy of Illinois Policy Institute Executive Director John Tillman:
– Why is Illinois Opportunity Project, a 501c4, organization operating out of Illinois Policy Institute? What is its relationship to Illinois Policy Institute?
– Does Illinois Opportunity Project share office space, equipment, and personnel with Illinois Policy Institute?
– Who is funding Illinois Opportunity Project? The same donors that fund Illinois Policy Institute?
– Why is Empowering Children PAC listed at addresses used by Illinois Policy Institute?
– Why is Dan Proft’s Liberty PAC listed at addresses used by Illinois Policy Institute?
– Why did John Tillman set up Fiscal Accountability PAC and why is it listed at the address for Liberty PAC’s accountant?
– Why did Illinois Opportunity Project give $10,000 on March 12, 2012 to Dan Proft for Governor and who made that decision? Why did Illinois Opportunity Project give $20,000 to Dan Proft’s Liberty PAC a week before the primary election in March 2012?
– Are the same four donors that are funding the three PACs also funding Illinois Policy Institute and Illinois Opportunity Project?
– Why did the Tillman-controlled PACs give contributions to political candidates on the same day?
– Through these activities and others, isn’t Illinois Policy Institute engaging in the same unethical political practices that it accuses Democrats like Michael Madigan of engaging in?
The Internal Revenue Service and responsible media should demand some answers from Illinois Policy Institute Executive Director John Tillman about his organization’s dubious shell game activities.
Donors to Illinois Policy Institute-affiliated political groups should think twice before contributing; who knows where your dollars are really going.
“You gloat about how popular you are with The Tea Party; but you still are very concerned with me. Dan Proft; The Man with a Law Degree worried about a blue collar nobody like me. Get on with your life Dan.”
– Illinois Tea Party organizer who was bullied by Dan Proft
Chicago, IL – WLS radio host and political operative Dan Proft, who is already raising money for his second bid for Illinois governor, isn’t on the greatest terms with Illinois tea party organizers these days, as a series of bullying emails to tea party members emails leaked to Illinois Citizens for Ethics Reform reveal.
Members of Illinois tea party organizations are furious with Proft over his support of Rep. Adam Kinzinger over the more conservative Rep. Don Manzullo and his PAC funding of candidates around the state that insiders say were not known or endorsed by any tea party organizations or conservative organizations. In one campaign, Proft endorsed a candidate whose family had funded Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel’s campaign in 2011.
Over the last week, a frenzy of angry emails were traded with tea party organizers who generally agreed that Proft, who has a troubling financial relationship with the town of Cicero, would be no longer be invited to speak at tea party events. Proft had been a fixture on the Illinois Tea party speaking circuit since 2010.
“Mr Proft is a turncoat, not in a sense that he is going from Conservative to a Liberal. but he certainly is trying to promote himself as some sort of Tea Party Conservative and then acts like a BIG “R” Republican or worse RINO. Encourage this at our own peril,” said one tea Illinois tea party organizer in his email.
“I had him scheduled to speak-but he was cancelled a couple weeks ago. He didn’t take it well, so much for his next run for office,” said another.
“I say uninvite those who are not with us when it counts. The Summer Soldier and Sunshine Patriot did not create our Declaration and Constitution; Those who decided to hang together did,” said yet another.
In the emails, the Chicago Tea Party was also criticized for having Proft be a featured speaker at its April 16th rally in Chicago and Proft’s relationship with the group was also questioned.
“To those this may concern: Dan Proft will be speaking at The Tax Day Rally in Chicago. I am requesting that each of you send out a press release concerning Dan Proft. We don’t want him speaking for or at Tea Party events. He is using the Tea Party to gain credibility and to further his own political career. Dan Proft has been endorsing candidates who are far from conservative or share any of our Tea Party principles. Also; Contact those who are hosting The Chicago event and tell them to cancel Dan Proft,” said another email.
The current leader of the Chicago Chicago Tea Party is Eric Kohn, who, according to his LinkedIn account, worked as operations manager for Proft’s Urqhardt Media in Cicero. He is also named as the treasurer of Fiscal Accountability PAC, which contributed to Proft-backed candidates this election cycle. It is funded by the Illinois Opportunity Project, which lists Proft as a board member. Illinois Opportunity Project contributed $10,000 to Proft for Governor on March 20, 2012. Source: Illinois State Board of Elections
The level of anger escalated to the point that a conference call with Illinois tea party activists was called by Illinois Tea Party head Denise Cattoni.
Unhinged by all the criticism, the WLS radio host began targeting tea party organizers who sent out the emails criticizing him. With one tea party member, Proft bullied the organizer with a bombardment of harassing emails laced with arrogant and condescending remarks such as, “Learn to read,” and “know you don’t deal in facts; you deal in unfounded attacks and cowardice,” “soft-headed juvenile behavior” and “now try to stay on point.”
The now-furious Proft then sent an email to the tea party organizer’s group to try to get him ousted. It didn’t work. He also misrepresented the conference call that took place among Illinois tea party organizers.
From Dan Proft: I am writing to you because recently XXXXXXX send out an erroneous and disparaging email about me to tea party leaders around the state. He was quickly and properly rebuked by the Chicago Tea Party among others. But the most disturbing part of his email wasn’t his ad hominem attacks on me. I am used to such soft-headed juvenile behavior by those with little command of the facts but a lot of free time. The most disturbing part was his call for me to essentially be silenced ostensibly because I supported Adam Kinzinger over Don Manzullo. Of course, thankfully the overwhelming majority of tea party leaders and ILGOP leaders for that matter understand that attempting to silence dissenting views, particularly on the basis of a disagreement over a particular campaign or particular issues, is the province of small minds and small men.”
Feeling harassed by Proft who had been emailing him non-stop over the course of a week, the organizer wrote back to him:
From Tea Party Organizer to Proft: Dan Proft, Illinois Tea Party hasn’t rebuked me. I was on the confrence call last night. My email was discussed. And many people agree with me about you. They disagree about the level of participation you have with The Chicago Tea Party. XXXX was on this call as well. I know most of The Tea Party leaders in The 16th CD. Just about all of them agree with me regarding you. Don’t believe me? Ask them. You gloat about how popular you are with The Tea Party; but you still are very concerned with me. Dan Proft; The Man with a Law Degree worried about a blue collar nobody like me. Get on with your life Dan.
Proft, angered by the criticism of his activities, apparently believes that bullying and harassing his critics is the way to silence them. So much for the First Amendment, right Dan Proft?
Proft’s D-list William F. Buckley routine was already wearing thin but no one likes a bully.
(Chicago, IL) – Is it ethical for a radio talk show host to be raising campaign funds for a second statewide political bid for governor while he is promoting himself on Chicago radio? WLS-AM Chicago talk show host Dan Proft does not appear to be troubled by the ethical quandry. Either the honchos at Cumulus Media, which owns WLS-AM, know about it or they do not.
Michael Damsky, former general manager and President of Cumulus-owned WLS-AM who was fired last week, tapped Bruce Wolf, a veteran sports broadcaster and Proft, a political operative with a history of questionable no-bid contracts in Cicero and dirty dealings with Cicero’s mayor Larry Dominick, for weekdays from a weekend shift back in June. WLS-AM’s ratings have been in a state of decline since the fall. Over the weekend, Cumulus’ Lew Dickey and Jon Pinch named Damsky’s replacement – David Crowl, formerly of Clear Channel.
Proft also ran a failed bid for governor in 2010, coming in last in the Republican primary.
Recently, Proft formed a political action committee called Liberty PAC, which is operated out of Illinois Policy Institute, a 501c3 group, and, in a move that outraged many Illinois Republicans, heavily funded questionable candidates in the 2012 Republican primary. Proft is on the board of Illinois Opportunity Project (a 501c4), which also operates out of the Illinois Policy Institute. How can a 501c4 and a PAC operate out of a “Republican-leaning” tax-exempt 501c3 that raises money promoting ethical reform in politics? Because this is Illinois and ethics is snickered at in this state.
Proft seems to snicker at it as well considering his on-air rants against House Speaker Michael Madigan and the corruption that is Illinois politics. It is a case of “do as I say” but not “do as I do.” On March 20 – primary election day in Illinois, Illinois Opportunity Project contributed $10,000 to Proft for Governor. (See snapshot from the Illinois Board of Elections website).