Chicago, Illinois, May 9, 2013 – So how has the Illinois Policy Institute used its 501c3 tax-exempt status lately? To inform and debate Illinois’ broken pension system? No. To pontificate about educational choice and reform? No. To use its official Twitter account to message personal attack pieces against yours truly to its “followers?” To manufacture the hateful attacks in the first place?
The answer is “yes” and “yes.”
The poorly-written attack piece, “How Do You Solve a Problem Like William Kelly” was posted by John Dyslin, a staffer for Commissioner Dan Patlak at the Cook County Board of Review, and appeared in an unregulated sign-up blog online. Yesterday, the Illinois Policy Institute was caught private messaging the piece on Twitter shortly after the hate piece went “live.” Some of the messages were forwarded to me.
Other than a comparison of me to Julie Andrews in “The Sound of Music,” (weird), the piece was all hate-based vitriol, misleading and false statements, and made-up things I never said. Dyslin’s writing would never pass journalistic muster – in a newsroom you can’t make-up quotes to fit your story. Hate pieces are like that.
Illinois Policy Institute has long portrayed itself as an organization above the fray. But the reality is that it has a history of attacking people behind-the-scenes. John Tillman, Dan Proft, and others in the Illinois GOP political establishment have attacked real conservatives for years. Moreover, they have misused some tea party leaders to help them attack good people. They view the tea parties as something they can control for their own political purposes.
But this time, IPI has publicly been caught in the act of sowing personal attacks. Illinois Policy Institute donors, you have been put on notice about how this organization and its leaders really conduct themselves when they believe no one is looking. It’s reputation is now forever tarnished. Whatever credibility it had, is gone.
So how did this latest round start?
For the past week, Illinois Policy Institute has been furious over a blog I wrote in Chicago Now about the financial interests of key staff in the virtual charter school plan – a plan that could extract $16 million in local tax dollars. Yes, that’s $16 million in Illinois tax dollars that IPI’s staff would control.
Illinois Policy Institute has been asking its subscribers to oppose the new bill that would put a one year moratorium on virtual charter schools – and yet it has never disclosed to them its financial interest in the charter plan. That’s why I wrote the blog.
So, steaming over my column, Illinois Policy Institute sent a threatening email to Chicago Now demanding the blog be taken down. The organization also pressured a tea party group into disinviting me from speaking last weekend. After all, that’s the role of a tax-exempt non-profit i.e. to censor conservative columnists and prevent them from speaking at tea party rallies.
Illinois Policy Institute’s John Tillman and Dan Proft are also livid because I was responsible for helping to upset the rotten applecart known as former GOP Chairman Pat Brady, who resigned Monday. You see Brady, who was appointed by Illinois Policy Institute board member and fundraiser Andy McKenna, is a key Tillman-Proft ally.
It doesn’t bother me that the Illinois Policy Institute is mourning Pat Brady. He deserved to go. I’m glad I made sure he did. Brady’s resignation must have been the final straw for Tillman and Proft.
In all of this, a serious issue is Illinois Policy Institute’s relationship with John Dyslin. Dyslin lists in his bio that he is a “Liberty Leader” for the Illinois Policy Institute. So did Illinois Policy Institute direct him to write the personal attack piece so they could promote it to their lists? That’s a pretty safe bet and it is a misuse of their 501c3 tax-exempt status.
Dyslin has written other personal attack pieces against me whenever I have dared criticize Illinois Policy Institute’s operations – again likely at IPI’s direction.
According to For the Good of Illinois’ Open the Books Portal, Dyslin’s day job is as a $46,000 a year staffer at the Cook County Board of Review. For months, I’ve seen Dyslin’s posts on Facebook and Twitter during the day when he is supposed to be working on behalf of Cook County taxpayers. Commissioner Patlak should definitely conduct an internal investigation on Mr. Dyslin’s internet “activities” and release the results to the public.
Like many, I have my detractors. But I can also tell you that for years, before I ever penned a word of criticism, I reached out to work with every single one of them over and over again. My hand was bit off every time. I can tell you that all of them have taken aim at me first and always from behind – a cowardly form of attack. I attack from the front and out in the open. I criticize what they “do.” They attack me “personally.” They scream that “I burn bridges.” I will tell you that they burned them first. There weren’t any bridges left to burn.
Dyslin has posted on Facebook that John Tillman, Dan Proft, Jack Roeser, and Sheriff Mark Curran have been in contact with him regarding the article.
What these “detractors” don’t like is that when they attack me, I fight back. What these “detractors” don’t like is that I have shined a spotlight on their bad or unethical behavior. Here’s a solution for them: stop doing bad, unethical things.
I have been an ardent conservative and anti-tax activist for more than 20 years. I have confronted corrupt liberal Democrats at every turn. I also haven’t been afraid to call out corrupt members of my own party. In all of that time, I have never hesitated to put myself, my reputation, and my safety on the line. It didn’t scare me to challenge Rep. Bobby Rush for Congress back in 1994, to challenge Rahm Emanuel or his petitions for mayor on the basis of residency in 2011, and I am sure as hell not scared of the ethically-challenged Illinois Policy Institute.
William J. Kelly is a conservative columnist with national publications including the Washington Times Communities and the American Spectator. He is the founder of an Emmy award-winning TV production house with offices in Chicago. For more information about William Kelly, watch the “Conservative in Chicago.”