* Mark Maxwell…
On Wednesday, July 17th, [congressional candidate Betsy Dirksen Londrigan] held a joint press conference call with a campaign finance reform group called End Citizens United. The campaign sent invitations to local media and asked them to RSVP.
WCIA has learned an unpaid volunteer working on behalf of the [US Rep. Rodney Davis] campaign crashed the call, lied about his name to pose as reporter for a college newspaper, and ambushed Dirksen Londrigan with pointed arguments, including jabs at her husband’s career.
The caller identified himself as Jim Sherman with The Alestle, the SIUE student newspaper.
According to a call log provided to WCIA, the phone number used to dial into the conference call matched the cell phone number for Nick Klitzing, the former Executive Director of the Illinois Republican Party who most recently worked as the deputy campaign manager for former Governor Bruce Rauner.
Reached by phone, Klitzing confessed to committing the hoax and said, “I was willing to help. I’m just a volunteer.”
Falsely identifying yourself as a reporter is not only highly unethical, it’s also an amateur move and truly stupid.
* The Davis campaign stonewalled…
Confronted with the established facts of the story and Klitzing’s confession, Davis’ campaign manager Matt Butcher initially tried to deny having any knowledge about the phone call.
WCIA gave Butcher another 24 hours to explain how an unpaid volunteer living in Chicago could have possibly been aware of a closed press call happening downstate, and how that volunteer might have known to parrot Congressman Davis’ talking points. Yet, Butcher still declined comment.
* Now, scroll almost all the way down…
It’s unclear if Congressman Davis has any knowledge of the hoax phone call his campaign commissioned, or if he’s aware of WCIA’s persistent efforts to seek any comment or explanation from his campaign manager. His staff has taken the unusual step of repeatedly ignoring phone calls, text messages and emails from WCIA’s political reporters, and no longer sends press releases or notices of media availability to WCIA’s political staff, despite frequent requests to include them in media releases.
I reached out to Maxwell to ask if his station was just being iced out by the campaign or if the government side was also stonewalling. He said both sides had cut the station off.
So, the congressman is refusing to communicate in any way with the largest TV station in his district.
*** UPDATE *** Clarification…