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IL GOP Treasurer to Grassroots During Meeting: “If You Haven’t Donated, Then Why Are You Here?”

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By Illinois Review

UPDATED – During a quarterly IL Republican Party State Central Committee (SSC) meeting in Bolingbrook on Saturday, approximately 200 conservative grassroots activists filled the room in a stunning display to publicly share their grievances about the disappointing losses during the November 8th election; the lack of support they received from the party; and demanding that chairman Don Tracy resign.

The GOP leaders were visibly stunned and far outnumbered, with many of the grassroots activists driving more than five hours to attend Saturday’s meeting.

Joining the grassroots were many former GOP candidates, including Lt.Gov. candidate Stephanie Trussell, attorney general candidate Tom DeVore, US Senate candidates Peggy Hubbard and Matt Dubiel, former state senate candidate Christine McGovern, former congressional candidates Ashley Ramos, Rob Cruz, Cathy O’Shea, Jack Lombardi, Nikki Conforti and Jim Marter, and many more.

The meeting was long, with many state central committee members praising Tracy during their committee updates and talking about the “red wave” that the GOP experienced in local races in counties like Gallatin, Coles, Hardin, Jefferson and Marion – counties unfamiliar to most people in the room, including SSC members.

But the most shocking moment of the day occurred when IL GOP Treasurer and chairman of the finance committee Vince Kolber, a multi-millionaire businessman addressed the crowd bragging about how the party raised $2.2 million this cycle (compared to Pritzker spending $152 million), and then asking the room full of hardworking grassroots conservatives,

“I assume all of you have donated to the IL GOP?”

And when the room yelled back,

“No!”

He replied,

“No, then what are you doing here?”

The belittling and out-of-touch comment drew an immediate reaction from the crowd, still stunned that a GOP leader would say something so offensive to a room full of people where many of them had driven hours, just for their voices to be heard.

A trusted source confirmed to Illinois Review that Kolber is registered to vote in Wisconsin and voted there on Nov. 8th despite serving as a leader of the IL GOP.

A copy of IL GOP Treasurer and Chairman of the Finance Committee Vince Kolber’s voter registration in Wisconsin.


But the shocking moments were not yet over.

Leaping to Kolber’s defense was SSC member and grassroots-supported Jeanne Ives, who screamed,

“This is not your problem! This man gave me $750,000 when I ran against Gov. Bruce Rauner!”

Ives’ burst drew applause from SSC members, including Tracy, but angered the majority of grassroots in the room. Proving a point that Illinois Review has made many times in previous articles, the IL GOP establishment’s obsession with money.

If you don’t donate, you don’t matter.

And if you donate, you are somehow immune from criticism and can say anything you want.

No wonder the IL GOP can’t win an election – they can’t even win over the grassroots.

Update #2: Senior IL GOP official and chairman of the Republican Party of Illinois Finance Committee Vince Kolber would like IR to include his statement: “I remain hopeful in this season of goodwill that more of us will appreciate the need to build IL GOP membership.”

Update: Vince Kolber has reached out to Illinois Review stating that he voted early in Illinois in the General Election. Mr. Kolber did not dispute the fact that he’s registered to vote in both Wisconsin and Illinois, where he owns homes. IR reported based on a trusted source and we will continue our investigation.

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11 COMMENTS

  1. When the quirky Ives was running for Congress, she addressed the Cook County central committee meeting and said that candidates who had no chance of winning should send their remaining campaign money to her!!! I couldn’t believe what I heard, but yes- she said it with a straight face. With abhorrent people like her, we will never win anything. Richard Porter, National Committeeman, is no better and perhaps much worse. He flutters about but has never exhibited the kind of leadership that wins elections (except for himself and his duplistic duplicates). To change back to popular election of state central committee members would require legislative action by the state legislature- Ain’t gonna happen cuze the Dems just love a disorganized Republican Party.

    • Not to quibble, but you have a couple of points wrong there. The legislature is NOT needed to restore direct elections for the SCC. I explained in my latest piece: https://dougelstonibendahl.substack.com/p/do-this-illinois-gop-or-just-shut Bottom line, current law allows it. But yes, at least some on the scc and state chair will have to cooperate in calling for a state convention to get it done. That won’t be easy, granted. We have to shame them into it. I and others will be working on that.

      As far as changing the law as another alternative to restoring direct elections, I was very involved years ago when that was tried, at least twice. It wasn’t the Dems who stood in the way as you assumed. State senator Chris Lauzen championed the effort in the senate and the bill passed unanimously(more than once). It was so-called Republicans in the House, Tom Cross and Skip Saviano, who refused to allow it to get on the floor for a full vote. Saviano was not just a state rep, he was also member of the scc at the time. The Dems had no problem with us restoring direct elections for our party, many of them told me so, including Mike Madigan (say what u want about his corruption, he is a man of his word). All of them said the same thing, they weren’t going to be hypocrites. They weren’t going to stand in the way of Repubs getting same voting rights their Dem voters already had. But since it was solely a Republican party impacting bill, the Rs had to be the ones to call it for a vote. Can’t expect the Dems to ram something about our party through when they knew the top R leaders in the house opposed it.

      But the good news is while I’ve always been in favor of getting it done, any way, I do like the idea of Republicans doing it themselves at a convention much more, and I think it’s the much more realistic alternative.

      • First, I appreciate your concern about the Illinois Republican Party and I have followed your writings for several years. You perform a commendable service to Illinois political understanding.

        Secondly, my comment about legislative actions for a change was based on https://casetext.com/statute/illinois-compiled-statutes/government/chapter-10-elections/act-5-election-code/article-7-the-making-of-nominations-by-political-parties/section-10-ilcs-57-8-effective-until-712023-organization-of-committees-for-political-parties-voting-procedures#:~:text=Section%2010%20ILCS%205%2F7-8%20-%20%5BEffective%20Until%207%2F1%2F2023%5D,shall%20be%20elected%20as%20follows%3A%20State%20Central%20Committee , and plans for AFTER July 1, 2023. Cui bono?

        Thirdly, often in Springfield in the 1970s and 1980s on state business, I knew those in the Thompson-Ryan administration who planned the 1984 changes. “Jumbo” wanted complete control of the party and the easiest way was to reduce the number of Republicans who were choosing the state central committeemen.

        Fourthly, legislative politics are often one way in public and another way in private. The Democrats are always willing to make “accommodations” with Republicans to present a public persona which makes them seem entirely innocent. Such is done conversely by Republicans, especially during the Speakerships of Bob Blair and George Ryan (now 88 yo). See my PS below.

        Fifthly, I happily won several steak dinners at Cervantes Top of the Arch in Springpatch after betting that “Jumbo” would move Ryan into the Lt. Gov slot, with Jim Edgar for the patronage rich Sec of State spot. People involved in the “decision” related to me that the ssc fiasco was planned with Ryan during his speakership.

        PS: After daily sessions. politicians from both parties would satisfy their liquid requirements at The Speakeasy in a large local hotel or at The Opera House across from the capitol, and a few other places. One evening I was at The Speakeasy (it actually had a fun secret panel for entry) where Ds and Rs were imbibing. When I left, there was a prominent R outside barely able to stand erect. I asked him if he needed assistance, but he continually muttered that he had borrowed X’s car (a prominent D), and couldn’t remember when he parked it. After several minutes, I decided to drive him to his apartment which he shared with other Rs I knew. The next day, lender and borrower were POLITICALLY at each other’s throats. A few day later they were hugging each other at The Speakeasy.

  2. I’m proud of the strong grassroots showing at this meeting.

    Jeanne Ives’ statement about the money she received from Don Tracy is abhorrent and outed her as a RINO and not truly grassroots.

    I hate the leadership of the Illinois GOP and I hate the insinuation that one has to donate to the Illinois GOP in order to have a voice in its operations and leadership.

    I will never donate to the Illinois GOP. I will only donate to individual candidates who have proven themselves to be aligned with the grassroots.

    I hate how it seems that all of the leadership of the Illinois GOP, and even the Illinois Democratic Party, seem to live part time or full time out of state.

    It seems that Florida and Lake Geneva, WI are the preferred out of state abodes for these people.

    One should have to live full time in Illinois in order to be a leader in the Illinois GOP or to be a politician in any level of government in Illinois.

    If you don’t actually want to live here in Illinois, you shouldn’t be allowed to have a leadership position within the Illinois GOP or any level of government in Illinois.

    Someone needs to research all of the Illinois GOP leaders who maintain a residence in Lake Geneva and publicly out them. The Lake Geneva clique of both the Illinois Republican and Democratic Parties is the clique that is ruining our state.

    This meeting should never have been held in Bolingbrook. It should have been held in Springfield as it’s the state capital and centrally located in the state.

    Springfield is no more than three hours away to virtually the entirety of the state’s population.

    Bolingbrook, on the other hand, is over five hours away from parts of Southern Illinois.

  3. The IL GOP needs intelligent, fair leadership. There were a handful of state committeemen who listened intently, but the vast majority of these people showed themselves to be power brokers intent on keeping power. They did a poor job of dealing with their own base. One national representative seemed to be pushing the buttons of the base in my opinion. If not, he clearly needs to be schooled on how to deal with crowds.

  4. “If You Haven’t Donated, Then Why Are You Here?” Really, why have you done anything to make us want to donate, why the hell are you here big mouth treasurer. Surely you don’t think we will support your RINO policies.