* Remember the post earlier this week about Speaker Madigan and his spokesman once again needling an Illinois News Network reporter for working for the Illinois Policy Institute? Well, INN is out with a statement…
Chris Krug, publisher of Illinois News Network and president of Franklin Center, called Madigan’s and Brown’s conduct abusive and unacceptable.
“Speaker Madigan and spokesman Steve Brown repeatedly have harassed, belittled and attempted to provoke and intimidate INN reporter Greg Bishop now for nearly two years,” Krug said. “The pattern of unprovoked abuse and playground bullying is unprofessional. It’s unbecoming of anyone in a position of authority, let alone one of the highest offices in Illinois.
“The tolerance for abuse of media in the statehouse is unacceptable, just as it is for any other worker in the capitol. This incident – and the pattern of relentless abuse – should be immediately referred to the inspector general’s office and investigated.”
* More from the INN’s story…
In about a dozen such exchanges, Madigan’s longtime spokesman Steve Brown has pointed to Illinois News Network reporter Greg Bishop. The nonprofit Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity acquired Illinois News Network in October 2017. Before that, the network had been an independent project of the Illinois Policy Institute, a free market think tank that has been critical of Madigan’s policies and leadership.
* So, I reached out to Mr. Krug with three questions. Here are my questions and his responses…
1) The Policy Institute’s 2017 tax return (attached) shows that the [Illinois Policy] Institute was a “direct controlling entity” of the Franklin Center. Is that no longer the case?
I previously had not reviewed IPI’s 990. I believe the question you are asking is about ownership. When Franklin was taken on, it was in poor financial health, and I believe what you see there is IPI’s commitment to helping the organization financially sustain the end of that 990 reporting period. I should also be represented within the Franklin 990 for 2017.
2) The 2017 return also shows the Institute gave almost a quarter of a million dollars to the Franklin Center in 2017. Have those contributions stopped since the handover?
We don’t, as a practice, disclose donors, as their privacy is relevant.
A fair amount of what I am sharing here has been previously shared, but when it hasn’t fit with the narrative of a reporter, it’s been excluded.
Franklin received sustaining grants and borrowed money from IPI (I believe most of which we have paid back) to make it through 2017’s 990 reporting period. It would be great if every business could begin at “0″ on the number line, but we both know that isn’t the case. We’ve had a lot of rebuilding to do with Franklin, but it’s been good work – both here in Illinois and across the U.S.
Franklin, though a viable brand with equity, was quite nearly a complete scrape-off. It came with a fair amount of debt to service, which was inherited.
Currently, Franklin has its own development team and is steadfastly focused to independently raise money and to utilize our for-profit entities as means to provide revenue for the purpose of accomplishing our nonprofit mission. We’re performing nicely in that regard. We continue to solicit tax-deductible contributions here in Illinois and quite literally across the count – with an aim to be self-sustaining and financially viable long into the future.
John Tillman became the chairman of Franklin. I was appointed president. I am grateful for the financial support as we’ve worked to reconstitute Franklin, because it was critical at the start. IPI, foundations and concerned citizens across a full spectrum of giving have seen the value of our work and mission, which is truly heartwarming. I spent a fair amount of 2018 meeting with prospective donors across the country who believe in our mission to support legacy media with taxpayer-focused reporting. But as far ongoing support from IPI – if it were necessary– that would be a decision IPI would make.
3) You were listed on the 2017 return as an Institute employee. Is that no longer the case?
I am no longer an employee of IPI. I oversaw INN and IRN for IPI from May 2016 to October 2017.
So, if Tillman is chairman of the parent company and runs the Illinois Policy Institute, the entities are pretty darned close.
I still say that Madigan ought to knock off the bashing of a reporter just trying to do his job, but what do you think?