Rich Miller

Rich Miller

GOP money tells quite a tale

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By Rich Miller

State records show that Dan Proft’s People Who Play by the Rules PAC spent almost $36 million during the second half of 2022, mostly on advertising boosting Sen. Darren Bailey’s gubernatorial bid and opposing Gov. JB Pritzker.

Of that, $2.4 million was spent on consulting. Former ABC7 political reporter Charles Thomas was paid $100,000 in two $50,000 installments. Thomas appeared in some of Proft’s ads praising Bailey.

Tyrone Muhammed, the controversial founder of Ex-Cons for Community and Social Change, which bills itself as a violence interruption group, was paid $250,000 for consulting work.

Proft’s Starfish Consulting was also a recipient of almost $535K.

But the highest paid consultant for Proft’s PAC during the last six months of 2022 was a Chicago company called Salvo Page LLC, which got $800,000, plus another $111K for website services.

Salvo Page is not registered as a company with the state of Illinois. The only campaign payments to the company disclosed to the state were made by Proft’s People Who Play by the Rules PAC. Google searches turn up nothing. Proft did not respond to repeated requests for comment over several days.

RichMiller 1

Rich Miller

A search of Salvo Page’s Chicago address on the State Board of Election’s website turned up a clue.

Salvo Page shares a Chicago street address with Pipeline Media. The Columbia Journalism Review’s Tow Center has done extensive reporting on Pipeline and similar companies. According to that reporting, the company is run by Brian Timpone, a longtime Proft associate. I wasn’t able to reach Timpone.

Richard Uihlein, who was the principal funder of Bailey’s campaign via Proft’s PAC as well as some direct contributions, controls a committee called Restoration PAC, which paid Pipeline and an affiliate company well over a million dollars last year for various services, CJR’s Tow Center reported last October.

And that brings us to Republican Illinois attorney general candidate Tom DeVore.

When DeVore busted the campaign contribution caps in his race last August with a $250,00 personal loan to his campaign committee, some thought he might be opening the door to large contributions, perhaps from the billionaire Richard Uihlein.

Instead, all DeVore really did was allow Democratic incumbent Kwame Raoul to take a million-dollar contribution from Gov. JB Pritzker’s campaign fund – $940,100 more than Pritzker could’ve contributed had the contribution caps been in place. A few labor organizations also contributed sums slightly above the previous cap limit of $59,900, but it wasn’t much.

DeVore received a $10,000 contribution from James Hoeg in late October, which was $4,000 more than he would’ve been able to receive had it not been for the caps being lifted (Hoeg, by the way, recently contributed $50,000 to Paul Vallas’ Chicago mayoral campaign).

DeVore also received a $50,000 contribution in late September from the Anthony Marano Company (which sells produce to Chicago-area restaurants). The contribution was $38,000 above the by-then-negated limit.

And that’s it. $42K is all DeVore appears to have netted from his cap-busting loan.

There’s often an expectation when candidates loan money to their campaigns that they’ll spend most of it. Instead, DeVore reimbursed himself almost all of that cash, including a $200,000 payment on Oct. 14, even though the campaign was entering its final few weeks, and then another $15,000 the day after election day.

DeVore reported $226,072 in contributions starting the day after he loaned himself that money, which was just about $11,000 more than what DeVore reimbursed himself.

Outside of the loan repayment, DeVore reported spending less than $142,000 in the fourth quarter, which ended December 31. By contrast, AG Raoul reported spending almost $1.9 million in the same quarter.

DeVore spent just $8,642.98 on advertising during the fourth quarter. Raoul reported spending almost $1.7 million.

In other words, DeVore did not run a campaign designed to win. But we pretty much knew that during the campaign itself. He got thumped by Raoul.

DeVore did manage to elevate and give voice to some folks on the far right. Shannon Adcock was a significant DeVore contributor, kicking in $2,500 during September. Adcock is one of the founders of Awake Illinois, a far-right group that opposed pandemic mandates in schools that has since morphed into firing up moral panic over gays and trans people in schools, libraries and coffee shops. Vallas spoke at one of her events.

DeVore is now busily lining up clients to fund a third lawsuit against the state’s assault weapons ban at $200 a person. He raised more than half a million dollars with that same flat fee to fund his first two suits.

Rich Miller also publishes Capitol Fax, a daily political newsletter, and CapitolFax.com.

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