Illinois Policy Institute CEO John Tillman announced today the results of a full compliance review of the good government organizations he has fostered over the years. The review was conducted in the wake of a hit piece by the Chicago Sun-Times, which made false allegations in the hope of triggering a legal investigation.
For example, the Sun-Times reported an alleged “no-interest loan,” which was actually a bookkeeping error that misidentified a double payment to a vendor and was quickly rectified.
The Sun-Times has refused to address these errors. Further, on Monday one of the two reporters involved in the February article began a new line of inquiry that indicates another agenda-driven article is forthcoming.
Statement from John Tillman:
“I joined the Illinois Policy Institute in 2007 because I wanted to find policy solutions that will help save this state.
“Since then, we’ve become the strongest voice for taxpayers in Illinois. We read every bill. We have top experts analyzing Illinois’ challenges and finding solutions. Thousands and thousands of Illinoisans have turned to us for a voice. And we are excited to be a champion for people who have felt neglected by their elected officials for too long.
“One way we’ve promoted free markets and small government is by serving as an incubator for other good government organizations, working with them as they launch and then stepping back as these groups go off on their own.
“Rather than focusing on this amazing work, on Feb. 11, 2018, the Chicago Sun-Times published an article riddled with errors that misled readers about our work. The authors presented this as if it were investigative journalism, but there was no investigation and no journalism – simply the stitching together of information found in publicly available documents in such a way that suggested wrongdoing, of which there was none.
“The article got a lot of things wrong and purposely misled readers. The Sun-Times singled out a particular transaction that an outsourced accounting firm referred to as a “no interest” loan to a related party where I have an ownership interest. We were not given time to research that transaction before the story was published. Since then, as part of our internal review, we have researched that alleged “no interest” loan. It turned out to be a bookkeeping error: A double payment on an invoice that was quickly rectified. The Sun-Times has refused to update their article with this information, despite their journalistic obligation to gather, update and correct information throughout the life of a news story.
“Further, the Sun-Times presented perfectly normal contracts for services provided as money being ‘channeled’ to people improperly. They massively underreported the revenues of our total operation to create the illusion that my compensation is out of line.
“In a changing media landscape, it’s important that legacy media players such as the Sun-Times live up to the tradition of journalistic excellence. Sadly, they failed in this article and appear poised to try again. An email we received Monday reflected a new line of questioning that is equally inaccurate and misleading in its narrative.
“None of what is happening is a coincidence. It’s part of a concerted, bipartisan effort to silence effective voices of dissent that seek to hold politicians of both parties accountable for their policy and leadership choices.
“It’s important to have a healthy ecosystem of government watchdogs keeping elected officials from both parties in check, especially in a city like Chicago and a state like Illinois.
“But make no mistake, any effective voice for taxpayers at the state level will come under this sort of attack.
“We will not be silenced.”
For a rundown of the inaccuracies in the Chicago Sun-Times article, visit illin.is/suntimes.