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*** UPDATED x1 *** Washington Post reports on how some GOP candidates get their stories published in the “Proft papers”

Thursday, Apr 27, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller

* I told subscribers about this earlier today. Washington Post

The top Republican campaigns in Illinois used a private online portal last year to request stories and shape coverage in a network of media outlets that present themselves as local newspapers, according to documents and people familiar with the setup.

Screenshots show that the password-protected portal, called Lumen, allowed users to pitch stories; provide interview subjects as well as questions; place announcements and submit op-eds to be “published verbatim” in any of about 30 sites that form part of the Illinois-focused media network, called Local Government Information Services. […]

The online portal offers the potential for a new level of collaboration between political operators and certain media outlets — one in which candidates can easily seek to customize news stories without the public’s knowledge. The use of the tactic in Illinois has caught the attention of allies of former president Donald Trump, who have discussed the potential of expanding the operation, according to people familiar with the discussions.

The network is run by Brian Timpone, a businessman and former television broadcaster who told federal regulators in 2016 that his publishing company was filling the void left by the decline of community news, “delivering hundreds and sometimes thousands of local news stories each week.” He did not respond to requests for comment. […]

Timpone has denied that the sites serve partisan interests. In 2016, he submitted a sworn declaration to the Federal Election Commission responding to a complaint that his network’s coverage represented an in-kind contribution to a Republican candidate. […]

In one example, the campaign of Darren Bailey, the Republican running to unseat Illinois’ governor, Democrat J.B. Pritzker, used the portal to pitch a story days before last November’s election about an endorsement from Tulsi Gabbard, the former Democrat and onetime congresswoman from Hawaii, according to documents reviewed by The Post. A story soon appeared in the Dupage Policy Journal, whose website describes itself as a product of Local Government Information Services.

The Dupage Policy Journal quoted Gabbard’s effusive comments about Bailey, ticked off Bailey’s other endorsements and reported that the GOP candidate was “honored” by the vote of confidence. Other Chicago-area outlets reporting on the Gabbard endorsement, by contrast, offered additional context. They noted that Gabbard had previously called Donald Trump, who was also backing Bailey’s run, “unfit to serve” and quoted Pritzker criticizing Gabbard as a “conspiracy theorist.” Bailey, who failed to unseat Pritzker, did not respond to a request for comment. […]

Proft has described himself as a “part owner” of the network, though his name does not currently appear on Illinois registration records. He did not respond to requests for comment.

How convenient. Stay tuned.

*** UPDATE *** DPI…

Today, the Washington Post released a bombshell story detailing the level of access and cooperation between Illinois Republicans’ campaigns and far-right propaganda network, Local Government Information Services (LGIS).

Democratic Party of Illinois (DPI) Chair Lisa Hernandez issued the following response:

“I am appalled by the revelations in today’s Washington Post story on Dan Proft and Brian Timpone’s concerted efforts to mislead voters. This goes far beyond news with a partisan tilt; this was a deliberate distribution of disinformation that came straight from Republican candidates and their campaigns. It is imperative that all of our public officials condemn these actions in the strongest possible terms to avoid setting an unacceptable precedent that permanently shatters the line between news and propaganda, especially as Timpone attempts to expand his deceitful operation in 2024. The dangerous attempts to deceive voters pose a threat to our very democracy; degrading trust in our elections, media, and elected officials. Illinois voters deserve better, and Darren Bailey and all of the Illinois Republicans who engaged with LGIS owe them an apology,” said DPI Chair Lisa Hernandez.

Throughout the 2022 election cycle, Illinois voters were inundated with right-wing, pink-slime papers disguised to look like local news. DPI sent mailers to voters informing them of the deception, and ultimately Illinoisans rejected the hateful rhetoric and dangerous lies that Proft and his allies spread.

       

24 Comments
  1. - The Opinions Bureau - Thursday, Apr 27, 23 @ 9:52 am:

    Hey, that kinda sounds like they weren’t Playing By The Rules.


  2. - slow down - Thursday, Apr 27, 23 @ 9:54 am:

    This line “Timpone has denied that the sites serve partisan interests” is really something. Like denying water is wet.


  3. - Jocko - Thursday, Apr 27, 23 @ 9:56 am:

    “Every accusation is a confession.”

    Remember this the next time a GOP candidate complains about ‘fake news’.


  4. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Apr 27, 23 @ 9:57 am:

    If the penalties turn out to be “hefty fines”, the cost of doing business versus the money ready to be made in 2024 will be the weight Proft and Timpone will measure.

    I’m not too encouraged by any “ethical to legal… illegality”, since it appears holding accountable those spreading lies only need to fire a mouthpiece (maybe a second or third later) and it’s “business as usual”

    Let’s see if this smoke and seen fire brings something beyond “scrutiny”


  5. - OneMan - Thursday, Apr 27, 23 @ 9:57 am:

    I mean, it wouldn’t be that hard to set up various “news sources” and get various entities to pay for the right to “pitch stories” and collect minimal ad revenue or just people with a viewpoint to subsidise the “news entities”

    Then those entities promote their stuff on your “news entities” on social networks. you gain readers that might help your ad revenue as well. You run the thing in the cloud, so your capital outlay is low.

    Heck, build a platform and just sell access to the platform and let folks create their entities to do this.

    You could even then have the platform and create them working factions within the same party or movement against each other while collecting fees for the platform.

    You abstract yourself enough from the politics to offer this to everyone, not just factions on the same side.

    Ugh


  6. - 47th Ward - Thursday, Apr 27, 23 @ 10:05 am:

    When a guy like Dan Proft names his PAC “People Who Play by the Rules,” he is begging people to look for evidence of rule breaking.

    It is transparently projection, which is sort of the theme of modern Republicans.


  7. - Ron Burgundy - Thursday, Apr 27, 23 @ 10:05 am:

    Particularly with Bailey, it was quite striking how his campaign’s messaging, such as it was, so closely matched the Proft papers stories in the mailbox that week. It reeked of coordination. Well, here we are.


  8. - JS Mill - Thursday, Apr 27, 23 @ 10:20 am:

    Apparently, honesty and transparency are not values the conservative/law and order crowd believe in?


  9. - The Truth - Thursday, Apr 27, 23 @ 10:34 am:

    guessing this is why Proft decided to launch his weird attack on the Tribune’s Gregory Pratt last night - distraction


  10. - ste_with a v_en - Thursday, Apr 27, 23 @ 10:42 am:

    Proft part of a shady operation? No way.


  11. - Sir Reel - Thursday, Apr 27, 23 @ 11:13 am:

    Of course someone in the “news” business won’t respond to a request for comment. That might expose their “news” as fake.


  12. - thechampaignlife - Thursday, Apr 27, 23 @ 11:26 am:

    ===Timpone has denied that the sites serve partisan interests.===

    Should the Dems take him at his word and start freeping their submission site with Dem-friendly or at least nonpartisan stories?


  13. - Commissar Gritty - Thursday, Apr 27, 23 @ 12:12 pm:

    How is this not a huge story? Do we have any enforcement of election laws anymore or are we just going to pretend that every single pitch is not a chargeable offense?

    My god, it’s just so blatant these days. The sad part is that they know they’ll get away with it too. Are there any rules left to play by?


  14. - Commissar Gritty - Thursday, Apr 27, 23 @ 12:12 pm:

    Also, if the penalty for breaking the law is a fine, that is just another way of saying these laws are only for poor people.


  15. - Stormsw7706 - Thursday, Apr 27, 23 @ 12:34 pm:

    I still can’t believe that Tulsi’s endorsement of Bailey didn’t push him over the top.


  16. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Apr 27, 23 @ 12:43 pm:

    ===How is this not a huge story?===

    You think the Washington Post is some podunk outfit?

    C’mon, already.


  17. - Amalia - Thursday, Apr 27, 23 @ 1:06 pm:

    this has got to be violation city, right? and if not, rules changes needed. and it is certainly nasty and infuriating.


  18. - Anyone Remember - Thursday, Apr 27, 23 @ 1:11 pm:

    ===Apparently, honesty and transparency are not values the conservative/law and order crowd believe in?===

    Nationally, not since President Richard Nixon (partial exemption for Ford). At a state level, started with Governor Ronald Reagan.


  19. - Excitable Boy - Thursday, Apr 27, 23 @ 1:40 pm:

    Since when does Proft not have some arrogant response ready when questioned about his grifting? Is that a tell that he realizes he might be in some trouble this time?


  20. - Vote Quimby - Thursday, Apr 27, 23 @ 2:40 pm:

    Ask not for whom the bell tolls… it tolls for trolls /s


  21. - The 5th Deputy Governor - Thursday, Apr 27, 23 @ 2:41 pm:

    As soon as the respondents even mention 1A the Election Board punts completely. And round and round we go until we get to this - direct and undeniable coordination.


  22. - btowntruth from forgottonia - Thursday, Apr 27, 23 @ 3:11 pm:

    “People Who Play by the Rules,”
    Never said which rules though….


  23. - 47th Ward - Thursday, Apr 27, 23 @ 4:04 pm:

    Do you think Timpone bristles every time someone refers to his thing as the “Proft papers?”

    In this case, probably not. Lol.


  24. - PublicServant - Thursday, Apr 27, 23 @ 7:57 pm:

    Proft and Timpone need a Fox-type comeuppance. Make it expensive to knowingly spread lies, and they'’ll fold.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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