A conservative group that spearheaded a recent series of TV ads criticizing Gov. JB Pritzker is using another medium to get its message across, sending out a print post that lambastes Democratic candidates and platforms.
Republican political strategist Dan Proft designed the mailings. He heads a political action committee called ‘Play by the Rules’ that has bought ads in recent weeks criticizing Pritkzer and Democrats who backed HB 3653, a sharply divisive criminal justice reform bill. the electorate in recent years.
The PAC has received significant donations from billionaire Dick Uihlein, with more than $20 million donated since the primary. Uihlein is one of the driving forces behind the fundraising efforts of state senator and Republican gubernatorial candidate Darren Bailey.
Materials are mailed to groups of registered voters and are tailored to the community where the voter lives. For example, a Chicago-centric version of the Mail was titled “Chicago City Wire”.
In one edition, the articles criticized HB 3653 and noted several provisions of the bill that angered Republicans, including changes to the bond system and other law enforcement reform efforts. .
In DuPage County, one of the papers, titled “DuPage Policy Journal,” showed two full pages of photos of men – mostly black and Latino – who the publication said will be released from prison due to the new legislation.
“It’s pretty awful,” Pritzker said. “These are lies and they spread them in various forms, attacking people based on where they come from.”
Pritzker says the direct mail is not properly marked as campaign material and says cutting local media statewide has helped the paper gain circulation.
“When you get one in the mail, you should know it’s not a real newspaper,” he said. “It’s not even marked properly as campaign material. It’s carried by that network of right-wing newspapers that we all know exists in Illinois, and they’re trying to pick up the slack where real local journalism has sadly slipped back.
Proft dismissed Pritzker’s concerns about the publications in an email to NBC 5 political reporter Mary Ann Ahern.
“Newspapers spreading disinformation and representing only one point of view? Pritzker is to speak to the Chicago Tribune and the NPR/AFL-CIO (Chicago) Sun-Times.
The Chicago Tribune endorsed former Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner over Pritzker in the 2018 election. It has yet to publish an endorsement in 2022. The Sun-Times editorial board endorsed Pritzker.
It’s unclear whether conservative-funded newspapers violate election laws, even with the criticisms of bias contained in their pages.