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After defending ties to far-right group that called Pritzker a “groomer,” Paul Vallas changes his tune

Tuesday, Aug 2, 2022 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Windy City Times

Vallas speaks at event of group known for anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric

Former Chicago Public Schools CEO and current mayoral candidate Paul Vallas spoke at a fundraiser for Awake Illinois—a group that has been criticized for its transphobic and homophobic rhetoric, The Chicago Reader reported.

The group hosted a fundraiser in Naperville about school choice in June, and Vallas was a featured panelist. In addition to promoting school choice, the nonprofit has opposed COVID safety protocols in schools as well as the teaching of what it calls “critical race theory.”

In July, Awake Illinois was among the right-wing groups that publicly criticized Uprising Bakery and Cafe in suburban Lake of the Hills for planning a family-friendly drag show. The bakery was subsequently vandalized and forced to cancel the event.

On its website, Awake Illinois, among other things, urges people to “opt out of perverse comprehensive sex ed.”

In his remarks, Vallas discussed his experience and spoke about school choice. He also accused Chicago Teachers Union leadership of using intimidation to control teachers.

In an interview with Windy City Times when he ran for mayor in 2019 (at www.windycitytimes.com/lgbt/ELECTIONS-2019-MAYOR-Paul-Vallas-on-background-minimum-wage-LGBT-issues-/65402.html ), Vallas said, in part, “My approach has always been to embrace and support the LGBT community and let my actions speak louder than my words as I fight for rights and services for all Chicagoans,” adding that he “supported marriage equality on record since 2001.”

WCT has reached out to Vallas.

Yeah, well, now he’s saying we should ignore his actions and focus on his words.

* From the Reader

[Awake Illinois] hosted a fundraiser in Naperville about school choice in June, and Vallas was a featured panelist. In addition to promoting school choice, the nonprofit has opposed COVID safety protocols in schools, and the teaching of what it calls “critical race theory.” Last month, the group called Governor J.B. Pritzker a “groomer,” a term increasingly used as an anti-LGBTQ+ slur by the far right, after he signed a sex-ed bill.

In July, Awake Illinois and other right-wing groups publicly maligned UpRising Bakery and Cafe in suburban Lake of the Hills for planning a family-friendly drag show. The bakery was subsequently vandalized, and the bakery’s owners canceled the show as a result. Joseph Collins, a 24-year-old from Alsip, was later charged with a felony hate crime and criminal damage to property.

At Awake Illinois’s June fundraiser, Vallas sat on a panel alongside former Indiana school administrator Tony Kinnett and Waukegan teacher Frank McCormick, vocal critics of curriculum that includes critical race theory. Other panelists included Nicole Neily, the president of a campus free speech organization, and Pastor Randy Blan, who challenged the state’s mask mandate as headmaster of a private Christian school in northern Illinois. Corey DeAngelis, a national leader for school choice, gave the keynote speech. […]

Last week, VICE reported that the Proud Boys, a far-right neofascist organization, also targeted the bakery. The group gained widespread notoriety after its leaders were charged with seditious conspiracy for their roles in the January 6, 2021, insurrection in the U.S. Capitol. Its members have attacked and disrupted Drag Queen Story Hour events around the country in recent months.

Update 8/1/22: On Sunday, the Sun-Times reported that Collins, the man charged with attacking UpRising Bakery, was at the Capitol on January 6, and has been photographed wearing Proud Boys attire and posing with a prominent member of the group.

* From a Daily Herald story about the bakery

But Awake IL President Shannon Adcock of Naperville said it is not organizing a protest.

“We have posted the drag queen event info to our social media so people are aware of what is happening in McHenry County,” Adcock said in an email. “We do not condone children attending such an event.”

So, the group demands parental rights über alles except when they disagree with the parents? What a crock.

* Last week, the Tribune asked Vallas about the controversy

In attempting to downplay his June appearance with Awake Illinois, Vallas repeated that it was simply a panel discussion with the intention of raising money for “Project H.O.O.D.,” a nonprofit founded by Chicago Pastor Corey Brooks.

“What they’re doing … ‘Oh, Awake Illinois. They’re anti-LGBTQ,’ and they’re trying to play that card,” Vallas said of critics.

* Then, after the heat cranked up, Vallas told the Tribune this

Vallas, who is running for Chicago mayor, called it “hateful” for Awake Illinois to refer to Gov. J.B. Pritzker as a “groomer.” The Naperville-based group made the comment in a social media post two days before Vallas spoke on one of the group’s panels in June. […]

“Had I been aware of the hateful rhetoric espoused by a prominent member of the group I would have not accepted the invitation,” Vallas said in a statement Monday. “I will be more vigilant about vetting invitations in the future.”

Two days before Vallas’ appearance at the Awake event, the politically conservative group called Pritzker a “groomer” in Twitter and Facebook posts for his support of a 2021 Illinois law that established sexual education standards that some conservative and anti-LGBTQ groups have criticized.

Oh, please. Everyone knows what that group has been about since near the beginning of the pandemic. And Vallas is pretty knowledgeable about that particular issue because he spoke out against the mayor’s COVID vaccination regulations on city police.

* But, yeah, he didn’t know…


Also, as a reminder, Darren Bailey pledged to support the group’s “Parents Bill of Rights.”

       

22 Comments
  1. - cover - Tuesday, Aug 2, 22 @ 1:49 pm:

    Is there any doubt that the Proud Boys are a domestic terrorist organization?


  2. - Ron Burgundy - Tuesday, Aug 2, 22 @ 1:50 pm:

    With goofs like this, it’s hard to expect Vallas to be taken seriously. Especially since last time around he finished a distant 9th - I mean, he got doubled up by Willie Wilson 9th.


  3. - Roadrager - Tuesday, Aug 2, 22 @ 1:54 pm:

    Hinz with the predictable defense of “Lightfoot’s campaign must be scared, they’re trying to paint Paul Vallas as a Republican.”

    Anyway, guess what ballot Paul Vallas pulled when he voted five weeks ago.

    A GOP voter who pals around with Awake and Corey Brooks and advocates privatization and union-busting? He sure does walk, look, and quack like one.


  4. - Da big bad wolf - Tuesday, Aug 2, 22 @ 1:55 pm:

    I listen to Paul Vallas sometimes on the Joan Esposito Show. She calls him “my very good friend.” And he calls her Jane.
    I get the impression he isn’t too bright.


  5. - Norseman - Tuesday, Aug 2, 22 @ 2:00 pm:

    Vallas has become the joke that was Oberweis, Quinn …

    The proper name of Bailey’s favorite bill is “The White Christian Homophobic Nationalist Parents Bill of Discriminatory Rights.”


  6. - Tom S. - Tuesday, Aug 2, 22 @ 2:05 pm:

    Paul Vallas is so desperate for attention and relevance he will show up to speak to any gathering that has a folding table and microphone. Bet you this isn’t his only ill advised appearance.


  7. - Chris - Tuesday, Aug 2, 22 @ 2:08 pm:

    “Vallas has become the joke that was Oberweis, Quinn”

    One difference is that Jim and Pat won some nominations and seats. Paul is oh-for-lifetime, which might be why he’s airing his grievances by associating with these No Nothing folks.


  8. - Chris - Tuesday, Aug 2, 22 @ 2:13 pm:

    “ Paul Vallas is so desperate for attention and relevance he will show up to speak to any gathering that has a folding table and microphone.”

    Pat Quinn shows up with his own bullhorn and a clipboard, but somehow manages to avoid this sort of nonsense. (note: please go away, Pat)

    So it’s not just about thirst for attention, it’s deeper and less savory.


  9. - Big Dipper - Tuesday, Aug 2, 22 @ 2:14 pm:

    If he is a lifelong Democrat and voted in the Republican primary in June is that an admission that he is now a zombie?


  10. - MisterJayEm - Tuesday, Aug 2, 22 @ 2:14 pm:

    To my knowledge, Paul Vallas has never demonstrated that he has a moral compass.

    – MrJM


  11. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Aug 2, 22 @ 2:22 pm:

    Vallas lack the integrity that many at one time gave to him as a defining item of who he was.

    A Vallas with no integrity isn’t worth much, including with his excuses


  12. - Amalia - Tuesday, Aug 2, 22 @ 2:31 pm:

    Mr. ego did not care because they fawned over him. and now he got caught.


  13. - JS Mill - Tuesday, Aug 2, 22 @ 2:35 pm:

    =Vallas lack the integrity that many at one time gave to him as a defining item of who he was.

    A Vallas with no integrity isn’t worth much, including with his excuses=

    Excellent post.

    Also tells you what corey brooks is all about.

    And Awake Illinois…. Rich nails them with this…
    =So, the group demands parental rights über alles except when they disagree with the parents? What a crock.=

    For such a boots straps group the Awakers take a lot of selfies. Just sayin. I also wonder if the “groomer” stuff from them is one of those accusation as confession deals?


  14. - thisjustinagain - Tuesday, Aug 2, 22 @ 2:48 pm:

    Vallas is another ‘has been’ whose time ran out long ago. He stands zero chance of beating LL, and just put his foot in his mouth yet again.


  15. - Three Dimensional Checkers - Tuesday, Aug 2, 22 @ 2:49 pm:

    These politicians sure don’t understand public records laws.


  16. - TheInvisibleMan - Tuesday, Aug 2, 22 @ 2:59 pm:

    Paul was warned about attending that event, before he attended that event.

    He did it anyway.

    Either he was unable to figure out what that group was on his own, or he supports what they are about.

    Either one ends his run for mayor.


  17. - Homebody - Tuesday, Aug 2, 22 @ 3:10 pm:

    Vallas has always been on of those urban conservatives who has been a Democrat only because you can’t move up in city politics as a Republican. Nothing about this should be surprising.


  18. - Telly - Tuesday, Aug 2, 22 @ 3:51 pm:

    Why vote in a GOP primary if you’re about to run for mayor of Chicago? Is he that politically daft? I guess he didn’t pay any attention to Richard Irvin’s primary voting travails.


  19. - Roadrager - Tuesday, Aug 2, 22 @ 3:52 pm:

    ==Anyway, guess what ballot Paul Vallas pulled when he voted five weeks ago.==

    Gregory Pratt at the Trib is now reporting that Vallas pulled a Democratic ballot, and the previous report was a “coding error,” so I retract this part of my statement on Paul Vallas. The rest of it, and then some, still stands.


  20. - VoteUnion - Tuesday, Aug 2, 22 @ 3:56 pm:

    I had to staff Paul Vallas when he ran for Lt. Gov in 2014 for a press conference he did at Illinois Valley. One reporter showed. He was a loser back then and he’s a loser now.


  21. - Proud Papa Bear - Tuesday, Aug 2, 22 @ 4:12 pm:

    As an aside, it’s comical Awake Illinois is putting Jennifer Pritzker next to JB. She’s a conservative Republican who gave $250,000 to Trump in 2016 and largely opposes JB’s policies.


  22. - Telly - Tuesday, Aug 2, 22 @ 6:10 pm:

    I see the Chicago Board of Elections is now saying Vallas voted in the Dem primary this year and not the GOP primary as previous reported. So disregard my earlier post.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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