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A deep dive into Tillman’s finances

Thursday, Feb 8, 2018

* Sun-Times and ProPublica Illinois

Through an often-dizzying series of transactions, Tillman and his associates have moved millions of dollars around five interconnected nonprofits they run, steering money to for-profit ventures in which they have a stake.

For example, in addition to his role as chief executive officer at the institute, Tillman is the board chairman and former president of Think Freely Media, another small-government nonprofit that once shared office space with the institute and received hundreds of thousands of dollars from it in grant money.

In 2015, Think Freely Media made a $49,400, no-interest loan to a for-profit data and marketing company called Crowdskout. That came a few months after the nonprofit loaned Crowdskout $60,000 plus interest. At the time, Tillman had “majority unit control” of the entity that owned Crowdskout, according to a financial audit of Think Freely Media. […]

“If this is basically seen as an indirect loan to the officer, that’s a flat-out violation of nonprofit law in Illinois,” [ Lloyd Hitoshi Mayer of the University of Notre Dame Law School] said. […]

“Obviously, these are all fully disclosed transactions, all at fair market value as they should be,” Tillman wrote. “And yes, people and companies are paid for providing services. When I have had a role with an organization, that relationship must be properly disclosed to the board and I recused myself regarding any decisions made.”

* You most definitely should go read the whole thing. They even have cool, easy to read graphics like this one.

* And pay attention to stuff like this

On four occasions from 2013 to 2015, Think Freely Media gave grants to nonprofits that then hired for-profit marketing firms controlled by Tillman, records show.

“We’ve had the good fortune of being able to assist others in getting off the ground along the way — all of which is publicly reported,” Tillman wrote.

Tillman pitched Crowdskout to many Republicans, and Rauner hired the firm in 2016, paying it $200,000 to do market research for his campaign, according to state records.

There’s lots more. Click here.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

22 Comments
  1. - Not Again - Thursday, Feb 8, 18 @ 9:38 am:

    Time for Tillmon to go. The institute will have no credibility with him still there.


  2. - Augie - Thursday, Feb 8, 18 @ 9:42 am:

    It’s Madigans falt! Big government made them do it!


  3. - wordslinger - Thursday, Feb 8, 18 @ 9:42 am:

    Pretty simple grift: Set up a non-profit 501(c)(3) “charitable organization” and take tax-deductible donations; then spend those donations “contracting” or “loaning” with your own for-profit companies.

    It’s a way for the likes of Uihlein to pay his attack dogs and get a tax break to boot.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SjbPi00k_ME


  4. - Finally exposed - Thursday, Feb 8, 18 @ 9:43 am:

    He’s a charlatan and fraudster, but as long as Uihlein continues to be fooled it doesn’t matter


  5. - 47th Ward - Thursday, Feb 8, 18 @ 9:56 am:

    This is how you create a permanent campaign infrastructure. Republicans are so much better at this than Democrats.


  6. - Anon221 - Thursday, Feb 8, 18 @ 10:01 am:

    I’m betting Tillman owns several “ironing boards”;)

    BTW- Love the Beanie hat in Tillman’s “collection”:)


  7. - Anonymous - Thursday, Feb 8, 18 @ 10:10 am:

    ==This is how you create a permanent campaign infrastructure. Republicans are so much better at this than Democrats.==

    Except it looks to be illegal


  8. - Lefty Lefty - Thursday, Feb 8, 18 @ 10:16 am:

    Sidebar: If you haven’t donated to ProPublica and subscribed to your local media, do it now. They do great work — better than I’ve seen in a long time with fewer financial resources — and we need them.


  9. - ArchPundit - Thursday, Feb 8, 18 @ 10:26 am:

    —-Tillman pitched Crowdskout to many Republicans, and Rauner hired the firm in 2016, paying it $200,000 to do market research for his campaign, according to state record

    Uhlein paid better though.

    That’s a pretty thorough take down–the inside dealing and loans are not surprising, but ethically and legally troublesome. Tillman won’t be able to bluster his way out of it either.


  10. - wordslinger - Thursday, Feb 8, 18 @ 10:44 am:

    –Tillman won’t be able to bluster his way out of it either.–

    Money can be such a comfort when you’re experiencing bad publicity.

    I’m guessing the only “public opinion” he’s worried about are from the likes of Uihlein and Koch.

    As long as the IRS doesn’t come sniffing around, I’m sure he’s singing a happy song all the way to the bank. Transparently.


  11. - walker - Thursday, Feb 8, 18 @ 10:46 am:

    Nice abuse of the intent of disclosure and tax laws relating to charitable organizations. Invented during early Bush, and pushed nationally to partisans by Karl Rove. Even part of standardized training offered to “conservative” groups by national Republican Party. Then IRS prevented by Congressional Republicans from trying to investigate these abuses. Some Dems caught up to these schemes later. So much for “charitable.”


  12. - Anon324 - Thursday, Feb 8, 18 @ 10:48 am:

    ==As long as the IRS doesn’t come sniffing around, I’m sure he’s singing a happy song all the way to the bank. Transparently.==

    The IRS may not sniff around. But the Notre Dame law professor seems to think the Illinois AG may want to think about doing so. Of course, that begets the question of whether the AG doing so plays into Tillman’s hands as a “political witch-hunt…”


  13. - Chris P. Bacon - Thursday, Feb 8, 18 @ 11:01 am:

    And so once again we see why John Tillman is the perfect person to deliver pompous lectures to greedy state workers.


  14. - Conventional Wisdom - Thursday, Feb 8, 18 @ 11:11 am:

    Based on these revelations, how could the IRS possibly NOT investigate Tillman and the IPI mob for abuse of charity and nonprofit laws???


  15. - John Gregory (ex-IRN) - Thursday, Feb 8, 18 @ 11:30 am:

    *Grabs popcorn*


  16. - @misterjayem - Thursday, Feb 8, 18 @ 11:52 am:

    “how could the IRS possibly NOT investigate Tillman and the IPI mob for abuse of charity and nonprofit laws?”

    How? Shamelessly.

    – MrJM


  17. - Dan Johnson - Thursday, Feb 8, 18 @ 12:32 pm:

    One random observation: Crowdskout is a really cool product. That is all.


  18. - Arthur Andersen - Thursday, Feb 8, 18 @ 12:53 pm:

    Excellent reporting and awesome graphics with just the right touch of snark. Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.


  19. - One hand //ing - Thursday, Feb 8, 18 @ 1:47 pm:

    Drury will be calling out Rauner’s involvement in a money landuering scheme, right?


  20. - Whatever - Thursday, Feb 8, 18 @ 3:51 pm:

    ==“Obviously, these are all fully disclosed transactions, all at fair market value as they should be,”==

    In what market is a zero-interest loan at fair value?


  21. - wordslinger - Thursday, Feb 8, 18 @ 4:00 pm:

    –In what market is a zero-interest loan at fair value?–

    The market where you can approve loans from your non-profit entity to your for-profit entity.


  22. - Komodo dragon - Thursday, Feb 8, 18 @ 8:30 pm:

    Sen Nybo is as much an opportunist as Tilllman. If a letter defending Tillman suited Nybo’s political need of the day he would have taken a different letter from his desk drawer today.


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