Since his candidate's election loss to Rep. Ron Sandack, political operative Dan Proft has been in a dishonest state of spin control.
And he keeps spinning and spinning and spinning on blogs and social media.
The spin? That Proft’s involvement in these Illinois GOP races – particularly Sandack’s race - had to do with principle, not power.
Because Sandack voted in favor of same-sex marriage legislation, Proft publicly argued he should be targeted for defeat. He argued that other Republicans office holders should be targeted for defeat because they were not pro-family enough or did not sufficiently “advance the flag of economic liberty.”
But here’s the rub:
After he was criticized for his “gay bashing” mailers, Proft admitted to Sun-Times reporter Carol Marin that he has also supported candidates that endorse same-sex marriage. Moreover, Sandack scored a 92% rating and a 100% rating respectively from the Proft-affiliated Illinois Policy Institute and Illinois Opportunity Project.
Based on his own record, Sandack’s vote on same-sex marriage and his record on Illinois economic policy should not have been an issue for Proft. So what was really at issue here?
The only explanation is that Proft spent more than $100,000 of Richard Uihlein’s money because he doesn’t like Sandack, someone who bested his candidates on three other occasions. So apparently this was about ego - not principle.
But you wouldn’t know that from all the spin in the blogs of Proft’s associates, including an article in the Illinois Mirror, run by Eric Kohn, formerly of Proft’s Urquhart Media, the group that secured shady no-bid contracts with Cicero’s Larry Dominick and Jeff Pesek of troubled Morton School District 301.
So much too for “advancing the flag of economic liberty.”
The Mirror blog attacked Capitol Fax’s Rich Miller for “selective outrage” in his criticism of Proft. The Mirror article was echoed by another Proft-tied website here.
Of course, there is nothing selective or irresponsible in Miller’s assessment of the primary election results.
One day after his primary losses, Proft claimed victory and sent Miller a long list of candidates he claimed he had helped. Miller is not into “spin” and remarked:
Breen is the big one there. Proft was decisive in helping Phillips over the top, but the other races either weren’t close or were handled more by others.
Breen, a pro-life attorney with the Thomas More Society beat Rep. Sandy Pihos by a huge margin. Pihos, however, voted against the gay marriage bill. Rep. Ed Sullivan, who voted yes on that bill, won by a gigantic margin over his far-right primary opponent. -
The majority of Liberty Principles PAC expenditures were concentrated on defeating Sandack and Pihos. But the Sandack race was the big one and Proft lost.
In the days since the primary, the Illinois Review chimed in as well.
The IR posted an article on Illinois Minority House Leader Jim Durkin’s statement criticizing the large independent expenditures of Proft’s group, Liberty Principles PAC, against Republican incumbent office holders. Liberty Principles PAC is a group funded almost exclusively by Richard Uihlein. But for Uihlein’s cash, Proft would not be in any position to play target practice with GOP office holders.
In the IR piece, Proft again claimed the moral high ground:
"I find Jim Durkin's political tone deafness unfortunate. I had hoped he had learned more from Tom Cross' decade of abject failure in terms of what not to do as House GOP Leader… A Republican Party that recruits, develops and supports talented people, has mechanisms of discipline to hold them to account for their records both as policy leaders and party builders, and focuses the party's combined effort on advancing the flag for economic liberty in Illinois can be a super-majority party."
The Illinois Review printed an OPT-ED from a Proft supporter the next day.
But no mention on IR that Proft has supported both pro-choice and same-sex marriage left-leaning candidates.
Morevoer, what talented people is Proft referring to? Was Matune, with his criminal history and problems with the disclosures on his teacher’s application, even vetted? Did Uihlein intend for his cash to help a candidate with so much problem baggage? Is there a better rating than 100% for Sandack from Proft’s own group, Illinois Opportunity Project?
Durkin supported a number of the same candidates that Proft did – including Rep. Jeanne Ives and Rep. John Anthony. Why? Because they were incumbents, not because they were or were not conservative.
According to one candidate, "Durkin really worked his tail off to make sure all incumbents won on election day. He walked with Jeannie Ives, John Anthony, Ed Sullivan, Pihos and Ron Sandack. I saw no favorites being played."
The upshot? There was nothing pro-family or principled in Liberty Principles PAC’s lunge for political power this election cycle – including the group’s focus on winning open seats.
What is the difference between the establishment GOP spending money to help incumbents and Proft helping his own personal slate of candidates as he plays both sides of the pro-family vote? And what have those candidates promised him in return?
For the past two election cycles and many prior, conservative and tea party candidates have not had the access to cash to be competitive in Illinois political races.
Sadly, that hasn’t changed and that is the real tragedy of the past two election cycles.