Tag: Larry Dominick

Kelly Responds to Illinois Policy Institute on Virtual Charter School Attack

I recently wrote a column calling out Illinois Policy Institute officials for being dishonest about their interests – financial and otherwise – in the Illinois Virtual Charter School plan. More than $16 million in tax dollars are at stake.

Apparently, the piece is being tweeted out by the Illinois Principals Association and school district superintendents. So angry Illinois Policy Institute representatives contacted the website’s editors and demanded that the story be taken down immediately. It is important to see what organizations like the Illinois Policy Institute do behind-the-scenes.  This is a copy of one of the threatening and disparaging emails sent.

The problem with saying something isn’t true is that you have to prove it is false. Illinois Policy Institute can’t magically waive its wand and make facts it doesn’t like go away. As President Ronald Reagan once said, “facts are stupid things.” That’s why the article stands as is – without any correction. It is also why the Illinois Policy Institute must explain itself. And “no, that’s not true” is not good enough when the hard facts suggest otherwise.

So let’s go through Illinois Policy Institute’s grievances one-by-one:

First, they say its officials don’t have a financial interest in this multi-million dollar virtual school plan. But Virtual Learning Solutions, the entity that will govern the Illinois Virtual Charter School, lists Ted Dabrowski, Illinois Policy Institute’s Vice President of Policy as its secretary and Eric Kohn, whose wife is the institute’s Senior Manager of External Relations, as its treasurer. So what is their real interest here?

Illinois Policy Institute says that its officials will not manage the virtual charter school. But Virtual Learning Solutions is named as the organization that will govern the charter school entity for 18 school districts. So what does that mean? Will Illinois Policy Institute officials control jobs? Vendor contracts? The millions in Illinois tax dollars the virtual charter will receive? Who will be salaried? Are we really supposed to believe they get nothing out of this?

Second, they dispute the $8,000 per student figure – that’s in Illinois tax dollars from local school districts. They say “the amount of money that the virtual academic program will receive per student will be determined by the Illinois Charter Commission and that amount has yet to be determined.” That’s just double talk. The $8,000 is the amount per student that Virtual Learning Solutions has requested as part of its proposal. VLS projects a few thousand students by year five if the virtual charter is approved. So $16 million in state tax dollars is right on target.

Most puzzling of all, a representative for Illinois Policy Institute says that Eric Kohn, treasurer of Virtual Learning Solutions, “never had any contracts with Cicero President Larry Dominick” and that he “never served as the personal spokesperson for Jeff Pesek.”

But Eric Kohn was Operations Manager for Dan Proft’s Urquhart Media and benefitted from no-bid contracts from Cicero president Larry Dominick and Jeff Pesek. That’s a fact. He has been the spokesperson for Jeff Pesek and the Morton school district 201 for years – and was quoted in newspaper articles for Pesek as recently as the end of 2012. Kohn still works out Dan Proft’s offices for Urquhart Media in Chicago, where he operates other non-profit organizations, including the Chicago office of America’s Future Foundation and other groups. All of this information is in Kohn’s LinkedIn bio and in internet sources. Kohn submitted a much thinner bio – minus his Cicero connections – to the 18 school boards. (See Page 207).

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There is more in Kohn’s background that should raise red flags. Kohn is the treasurer of one Fiscal Accountability PAC – a PAC started by Illinois Policy Institute president John Tillman and is an a consultant with Merc Strategies, which received thousands of dollars in fees from Proft’s Liberty Principles PAC. Proft has long been partnered with the Illinois Policy Institute and is a paid consultant to Illinois Opportunity Project, which also donates to campaign for governor, his PACs, and candidates.

Did K12, Inc. even bother to vet Kohn and his background? K12, Inc. has enough problems with lawsuits and scandals – did they really need this connection to a corrupt Chicago suburb and its mob-connected figures?

And if there isn’t any problem, why be so dishonest about  all this? Isn’t Illinois Policy Institute supposed to be about honesty, integrity, and transparency? Or maybe its not.

All of this is an issue because Illinois Policy Institute and its sister organization, Illinois Opportunity Project, have been lobbying against HB 494, legislation that creates a one year moratorium on online schools. To use tax-exempt organizations to lobby against legislation that an organization’s staff has a vested interest in – that raises significant conflict-of-interest concerns. Yet, Illinois Policy Institute never mentions its vested interests in Illinois Virtual Charter School in any of the staff written articles, on news websites, or in email blasts to subscribers.

Illinois Policy Institute needs to finally come clean for the benefit of school choice advocates, for parents, and their children. I am sure they would welcome the change.

Dishonesty is never good public policy.



CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Rahm Backers Buying Influence in Illinois GOP

Chicago, Illinois, October 2, 2012An  article in Monday’s Chicago Tribune  reaffirmed a well-known political reality:  the Illinois Republican Party is for sale. The new buyers? Top contributors and advisers to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. In fact, Rahm’s donors have paid the down payment and the mortgage has already been drawn up.

But this is no ordinary mortgage: this is a political mortgage for the soul of a party and a movement.  

Isn’t that just what the doctor ordered in Illinois – a state party controlled by President Obama’s former White House Chief of Staff and his wealthy donors? Illinois conservative and tea party leaders must be thrilled.

This summer, Emanuel earned a not-so-special place in the hearts of pro-family voters after he tried to block the Chick-Fil-A restaurant chain’s city expansion after CEO Dan Cathy made statements in support of traditional marriage.

So what is behind this latest move to control the Illinois Republican Party and so-called conservative organizations?

In his report, Tribune reporter Rick Pearson describes how cheap Illinois Republican Party assets are being snapped up by “Republican” hedge fund managers.

But who are these “Republican” hedge fund managers really?

One of them is Anne Dias-Griffin, a former executive with George Soros Fund Management. The socialist billionaire Soros isn’t exactly known for his conservative philanthropy.

Her husband, Ken Griffin bundled more than $221,000 for Barack Obama after a visit to Griffin’s Chicago-based headquarters. Both contributed $200,000 to Rahm Emanuel’s mayoral campaign in 2010.

In early 2011, the Griffins began funneling tens of thousands of dollars to downstate organizations in Illinois, which then, in turn, gave the money to the Illinois Republican Party. The funds were unreported until conservative bloggers and members of the Illinois media began asking questions.

Chump change for wielding influence and power.

A search of the Illinois State Board of Election website reveals the Soros-linked Griffins also have been seeding political groups linked to the “right-leaning” Illinois Policy Institute, including the Illinois Opportunity Project and Liberty PAC, controlled by Dan Proft. Proft has deeply troubling money ties to Cicero’s Larry Dominick and Craig and Jeff Pesek, who control the Morton Grove school district.

The Peseks were caught on FBI surveillance tape in 2007 discussing a mob-ordered bombing of a Cicero business with their drug-dealer business partner.

Liberty PAC  supported Democrat or unknown candidates over conservative choices in the recent March primary.

The Illinois Policy Institute has had troubles of its own.

Conservative values much?

Another Republican money manager who is suddenly snapping up Illinois conservative assets is hedge fund manager Bruce Rauner, who is considering a GOP run for Illinois governor. Rauner’s firm’s purchase of SecurityLink from SBC Ameritech was one of the first big deals Rahm Emanuel put together after his sudden conversion to investment banker in the 1990s.  Emanuel had no previous investment experience. Rauner was placed by Emanuel on the board of World Business Chicago and currently serves as his advisor.

So what explains this flow of Democrat-linked money managers dabbling in Republican politics?

The answer is one that has plagued Illinois politics for decades: The Combine.

Former U.S. Senator Peter Fitzgerald coined the term more than a decade ago to describe that “Illinois political class that’s not committed to any party, that simply want to make money off the taxpayers.” In the 1990s, Fitzgerald fought the Combine and the Combine drove him out of Illinois. (Fitzgerald had his revenge: He was successful in getting Patrick Fitzgerald (no relation) appointed U.S. Attorney).

But now this next generation of “Combine” leaders is a bigger threat than ever before.

Will Illinois Republican and conservative leaders stand-up and cry foul? Will contributors finally be held to account for attempted influence-peddling in both political parties?

In other words, do values and principles still matter?

Illinois Republican and conservative voters will have a choice in November and beyond: What kind of Republican Party do you want?

The future of the Republican Party in Illinois just might depend on the answer.







Cicero Dan Proft Insults Friedman’s Memory at Economic Dinner (VIDEO)

If you are receiving this, you may be attending the Milton Friedman Economic Freedom Dinner that is taking place in Gurnee.

I know many of you from my run for Illinois Comptroller in 2010 and, in the spirit of integrity and truth, I wanted to share a bit of insight with you before that event takes place.

I understand that Dan Proft will be giving a presentation on the famed free market economist.  Given Proft’s deep financial ties to the corrupt towns if Cicero and Morton Grove school districts, I found this to be a subject of curiosity:

Where did Proft actually learn about Milton Friedman?

Did he learn about Milton Friedman from his no-bid Cicero contracts?

Did he learn about free market economics from Cicero’s infamous town President Larry Dominick?

Or the corrupt, mob-connected Pesek brothers and the no-bid school district contracts he received through them?

Milton Friedman might have been talking about Proft and his thuggish Cicero pals when he said, “Many people want the government to protect the consumer.  A much more urgent problem is to protect the consumer from the government.”

And protect the consumer we must.

As consumers, we must also ask critical questions of the people around us.

In Proft’s case, here are some questions that genuinely deserve to be asked:

Why would anyone who calls themselves a reformer – especially a so-called conservative one – be in bed with crooked Cicero president Larry Dominick?

And why would he hook-up with the mob-connected Pesek brothers?

Is this is keeping with Morton Friedman’s economic principles?

I think not.

Would Mr. Friedman be associated himself with Larry Dominick – the same Dominick who admitted to hiring more than 20 family members – including his wife and eight of her relatives?

Would Mr. Friedman have been on the Morton School District payroll of crooked Jeff and Craig Pesek, Proft’s friends, who were caught on FBI surveillance tapes discussing a mob-ordered bombing of a Berwyn business with Mark Polchan, a key associate of convicted mobster Michael Sarno? The Peseks are business partners with admitted cocaine dealer Enrique “Henry” Rendon.

Would he have taken more than $616,000 in no-bid government “town” contracts and $308,000 alone to represent a “town” building?

These are just a few of the questions you should be asking Cicero Dan Proft before he speaks to extol the virtues of someone who would not appreciate his two cents.

Especially when his “two cents” comes from the corrupt town of Cicero.

We can – and should – be able to do better.



KELLY: Conservatives finally waking up to Proft

CHICAGO, IL – Once again the ethically and morally-challenged Dan Proft was evasive when questioned publicly about his deep connections to crime-connected Cicero officials and top campaign bundlers to Barack Obama and Rahm Emanuel.

Proft spoke before TAPROOT organization at the Naperville/Lisle Hilton Saturday. It was the same exact David Mamet speech he has given for the past 9 months; I’ve heard it at least three times. The same combination of questions and answers. The same boring platitudes. Nothing new.

Since I made it clear I would be attending the meeting to ask Proft questions, he came prepare to evade them:

1. Dan, why are all the things you say so different than what you actually do?

2. Why would anyone who calls themselves a reformer – especially a so-called conservative one – be in bed with crooked Cicero Larry Dominick and the mob-connected Pesek brothers?

3. Why would a so-called conservative reformer be in bed with top bundlers to Barack Obama (more than $238,000) and top donors to Rahm Emanuel ($200,000 in 2011)? Donors who worked for Soros Fund Management with a troubling history of funding both socialists and RINOs?

4. Why would he use that money support Democrats over conservative and tea party candidates in the recent Republican primary?

5. And why did he aggressively promote CPAC instead the Illinois GOP Convention at a critical time – when conservatives and tea party activists needed to demand direct elections and hold the Republican Party to account for their recent actions on passing ObamaCare, higher taxes, and gambling expansion?

As any member of TAPROOT who was present at the forum can attest, Proft’s smug evasiveness was glaringly apparent to the audience and it definitely did not help him.  Arrogance should never be mistaken for eloquence; that is the mistake Proft continues to make. The audience wanted him – for once – to just answer the questions.

Illinois conservatives – having been at the mercy of crooked Illinois Democrats – don’t find “corrupt conservatism” especially appealing.

William F. Buckley was a hero of mine; but Proft is no Buckley.

Buckley would not have been on the payroll of grotesque Cicero thugs like Larry Dominick.

He would not have been on the Morton School District payroll of crooked Jeff and Craig Pesek, Proft’s friends, who were caught on FBI surveillance tapes discussing a mob-ordered bombing of a Berwyn business with Mark Polchan, a key associate of convicted mobster Michael Sarno. Incidentally, the Peseks are business partners with admitted cocaine dealer Enrique “Henry” Rendon.

When I mentioned Proft’s relationship to Obama’s top campaign bundlers, he tried to level some strange put-down about there being a “William Kelly purity test.”  But would Ronald Reagan ever have taken money or given money to a Barack Obama or a Rahm Emanuel?

Sorry Dan, but it shouldn’t be too much to ask that people who represent themselves as “conservative reformers” not make their living through mob-connected Cicero thugs, assorted criminals, or  Obama bundlers. You’ve set the bar just a little too low.

Yes, Proft uses “conservative window-dressing” to advance himself. But who really knows if believes anything?

We are coming upon the most important election of our lifetime: an opportunity to defeat President Obama and his extreme left-wing progressive policies that threaten to fundamentally change America. An America we won’t be able to recognize.

But we are fighting an Illinois Republican Party that is, arguably, in collusion with corrupt Democrats. At its best, our party is ineffective. At worst, they are doing it on purpose. (See a preview of our new TV ad spot: “The Illinois Republican Party isn’t broken; it’s fixed”)

We are also fighting people who cast themselves as conservative reformers; but their actions speak more loudly than their false conservative words.

Illinois conservative and tea party organizations are finally waking up to Proft and his crooked associates and what he is doing through the web of political action committees being run through John Tillman, former Illinois GOP chief Andy McKenna, and the so-called “not-for-profit” Illinois Policy Institute.

The awakening for Illinois conservatives is a rude one – but then again so is Proft.


William J. Kelly to attend this Saturday’s TAPROOT meeting

Chicago, IL-  Back in May, TAPROOT of Illinois, then headed by Dave Diersen, offered Dan Proft the opportunity in an open forum to answer some serious questions about his funding operations raised by Illinois Citizens for Ethics Reform.

Questions that involve Proft’s long standing relationship with corrupt CICERO PRESIDENT LARRY DOMINICK, MOB-CONNECTED CRAIG PESEK, and Proft’s political shell groups – all funded by the same former campaign bundlers to BARACK OBAMA (more than $230,000) and top contributors to RAHM EMANUEL (more than $200,000 in 2011). The same donors who are linked to SOROS FUND MANAGEMENT.

These same contributors also gave $30,000 to help unseat REP. DON MANZULLO and have been named in a political contributions scheme being questioned by the Crain’s Chicago Business and the Springfield Journal Register.

But Dan Proft  did not want to answer those questions in an open forum and refused to come to TAPROOT – despite the fair forum Diersen offered him.

In order to prevent those uncomfortable questions from being asked, Jim McInerney engineered a takeover of TAPROOT and demoted Diersen from his leadership position in June.

According to Diersen, McInerney says his plan is to terminate the meetings, TAPROOT’s annual picnic and Christmas party – calling them a “waste of time.” To date, McInerney has even refused to reimburse Diersen his expenses paid on behalf of TAPROOT.

Now the “new” TAPROOT under McInerney will be meeting this Saturday at the Lisle/Naperville Hilton at 8AM and Dan Proft will be speaking.

 The meeting presents TAPROOT members an opportunity to ask the tough questions that deserve to be asked:

–          What is Proft’s relationship with Cicero president Larry Dominick and mob-connected Craig Pesek?

–          How did he get a public affairs contract with Dominick, a former police chief under convicted felon Betty Loren Maltese?

–          Did he have a public affairs contract with Craig Pesek, who was caught on FBI surveillance tapes last year discussing a mob-connected bombing? How did that contract come about?

–          Did he accept campaign contributions from Pesek?

–          Why did Proft help mob-connected Pesek get on the State Central Republican Committee?

–          Why did Proft run candidates against tea party candidates in the recent March primary? Why did he support candidates with Democrat voting records over Republican ones?

–          Why did Proft send bullying emails to tea party organizers who disinvited him from speaking at their organizations?

–          – Why is Proft’s Liberty PAC listed at addresses used by Illinois Policy Institute?

–          Why did Illinois Opportunity Project give $10,000 on March 12, 2012 to Proft for Governor and who made that decision?

–          Why did Illinois Opportunity Project give $20,000 to Proft’s Liberty PAC a week before the primary election in March 2012?

–          Is Proft a paid consultant to the Illinois Opportunity Project?

–          Why is Proft accepting donations from donors linked to George Soros who bundled $230,000 for Barack Obama and $200,000 to Rahm Emanuel in 2011?

–          Why are political action committees – committees that fund Proft’s Liberty PAC candidates – operating out of Illinois Policy Institute?

–          Since McInerney does not attend regular TAPROOT meetings, why did he engineer a takeover of the organization? What does he hope to gain?

–          Will he be reimbursing Dave Diersen his expenses?

These are just a few of the questions that deserve to be asked.  Concerned conservatives of TAPROOT have a unique opportunity this Saturday to get the facts.

Now,  TAPROOT OF ILLINOIS, it is up to you to do just that.



A letter from William J. Kelly to all Illinois and tea party conservatives: 

I should have said it a long, long time ago but I’m saying it now: Dan Proft is worse than a RINO. He is a “false flag” conservative.

I first met Proft in 1994 when he volunteered to work on my campaign for congress in the heavily gerrymandered First Congressional District. I was running against former Black Panther Bobby Rush and I succeeded in exposing Rush’s $50,000 in back taxes, unpaid child support and parking tickets. As I was in my twenties, that was quite enough at the time.

So I have known Proft for almost twenty years but I realize that I don’t know him at all.

Who is this guy, really?

Proft has revealed his true treacherous colors this election cycle for everyone to see. It is not even deniable. He endorsed a lot of candidates this season. Unfortunately, they were all “combine-style” RINOs running against true conservatives. 

He endorsed Jim Falvey, a candidate with a Democrat voting record, over Richard Grabowski in the Third Congressional District. Why?

He endorsed Jeanne Ives over Tea Party conservative Laura Pollastrini and Dave Carlin, District Director for Joe Walsh. Why?

Proft’s interference in the race of longtime conservative Rep. Don Manzullo and endorsement of freshman Rep. Adam Kinzinger has enraged Tea Party leaders in the Rockford area who supported Manzullo and they should be enraged.  But Tea Party leaders shouldn’t be surprised.

And, yes, Dan Proft endorsed my opponent in the 42nd ward committeeman’s race in Chicago. As I have made clear, my goal was to become Chairman of the Chicago GOP, build a real Republican Party, slate Republican candidates for all open offices, and build an organization to get out the vote necessary in Chicago and Cook County in order for Republican candidates to win statewide.

And, although, Proft would probably tell you in a speech that these are also his goals, he endorsed my opponent, one 23 year-old Tommy Smithburg, whose family gives tens of thousands of dollars to the Chicago Democrats that Dan Proft claims to oppose. Democrats that include Rahm Emanuel (this was a $10,000 contribution for Rahm’s mayoral bid), Dick Durbin, and Barack Obama. Again, why?

So who is this guy? Who is Dan Proft really?

We do know that he has a history of taking no-bid lucrative contracts from dirty Cicero. His business partners are still taking hundreds of thousands of dollars from Cicero. And Proft still has his dirty fingers in the dirty pot of Mayor Larry Dominick of Cicero, who is a hold-over from the reign of convicted felon Betty Loren-Maltese. 

Who is this guy?

He says he has a successful track record of working for conservative candidates. But he publicly admits he worked for Judy Baar Topinka. Around the same time, he proudly claims to have worked for Republican U.S. Senate candidate Jack Ryan. But the Ryan campaign was the worst bungled effort I have ever seen. Dan Proft could not have done a better job of handing that U.S. Senate seat to Barack Obama if he was trying to.  Was he trying to?

Who is this guy?

To all conservatives and tea party leaders, are you Dan Proft’s faithful followers or his useful idiots?

As Vladmir Lenin once said, “The best way to control the opposition is to lead it.” Proft has definitely been a student of Lenin.

However, I am a student of Reagan. And, sadly, I can spot a traitor and a backstabber when I see one.

Hopefully, you can too.


William J. Kelly