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IL GOP Attacks Illinois Review Over Postage Discount, Says GOP “Strictly Neutral” During Governor Primary

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By Illinois Review

After a several week hiatus, IL GOP Chairman Don Tracy resumed his weekly Chairman’s Memo last Friday night when few were paying attention to their emails. And rather than championing the school board and municipal races that are just months away, Tracy used his first Memo of 2023 to attack Illinois Review for recently breaking that the IL GOP put its thumb on the scale during the Republican primary.

Importantly, Tracy states that Illinois Review’s reporting on the Richard Irvin for Governor campaign having received the benefit of the IL GOP’s postage discount for many of the dozens of mailers sent out statewide was “absolutely false” despite Tracy’s admission to the contrary made to conservative leaders in July, in exclusive audio obtained by Illinois Review.

But, incredulously, Tracy states in his first Memo of the New Year that the IL GOP was “strictly neutral” in the Republican gubernatorial primary, an assertion so offensive that it makes IL GOP Finance Committee Chair Vince Kolber’s attack of grassroot conservatives at last month’s State Central Committee meeting look like child’s play.

As previously reported, Illinois Review has an audio recording from a July 2022 meeting of conservative leaders with Chairman Tracy, in which he was specifically asked why the IL GOP permitted the Irvin campaign to use the IL GOP postage discount.

In response, Tracy did not deny the usage, but rather confessed that he was “directed” by the House and Senate leadership to do so – in other words, by former House Minority leader Jim Durkin.

State Central Committee member Jeanne Ives, 3rd District, had attended the July meeting with Tracy and is heard on the audio recording voicing her outrage to the IL GOP’s gifting the Irvin campaign of its postage discount, calling it a “tacit endorsement” of Irvin. Ives had endorsed conservative candidate Darren Bailey for governor.

In response to Ives’ comments, Tracy told Ives that as a new State Central Committee (SCC) member, she could take it up at the next SCC meeting. Following Illinois Review’s call for the Inspector General of the United States Postal Service to audit the IL GOP, Tracy formed a new committee to draft policies for usage of the postal discount – as no such policies existed before – and not surprisingly, Tracy directed that Ives be placed on that committee.

After our story on the IL GOP postage discount for the Irvin campaign broke, numerous members among the IL GOP leadership began blaming Durkin for the postage crisis, stating that Durkin made the decision as to which candidates got to use the postage discount and which did not.

An outspoken defender of Richard Irvin, Durkin was among the original endorsement list for Irvin.

But now leaders among the IL GOP are calling for Illinois Review to release the exclusive audio, saying “put up, or shut up,” a move that would reveal Illinois Review’s confidential sources and make plain to all the rift that exists among State Central Committee members.

Ironically, the IL GOP is borrowing a line out of the playbook of former IL Gov. Rod Blagojevich when they demand that Illinois Review “play the tapes!”

If use of the IL GOP postage discount by the Irvin campaign was “absolutely false,” then it should be easy to prove through financial records that the IL GOP, facing an audit, should want to produce.

Illinois Review understands that an offer has been made to the IL GOP by an individual having a forensic accounting background, to review the IL GOP’s books with respect to the postage discount – a move that would bring immediate closure to this issue one way or the other – but the IL GOP has declined the offer.

Accordingly, in addition to an audit of the postage discount by the Inspector General of the US Postal Service, Illinois Review calls on the IL GOP for a financial audit of the Party’s books.

But Don Tracy’s statement that the IL GOP was “strictly neutral” during the Republican gubernatorial primary cannot go unchallenged.

First, at least six of the State Central Committee members (Tim Butler, Judy Diekelman, Sean Morrison, Tim Ozinga, Richard Porter, Jay Reyes) had endorsed Irvin for governor in the primary. The State Central Committee is the governing body of the IL GOP, and so it begs the question,

Chairman Tracy, was this being “strictly neutral” in the Republican gubernatorial primary?

Second, national committeeman Richard Porter served as co-chair of the Irvin campaign. Porter, whose law firm serves Pritzker family interests and donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to Joe Biden’s presidential campaign, is a non-voting member of the State Central Committee.

Chairman Tracy, was this being “strictly neutral” in the Republican gubernatorial primary?

Third, IL GOP general counsel John Fogarty also served as the Irvin campaign lawyer. As such, it’s not clear to us which client Fogarty was serving when he permitted the IL GOP postage discount to be applied, if he even was aware.

Chairman Tracy, was this being “strictly neutral” in the Republican gubernatorial primary?

Fourth, the IL GOP paid for mailers to attack conservatives running against establishment-backed candidates that endorsed Irvin. In many if not all of these instances, the establishment-backed candidates had been anointed leadership roles by Durkin.

In fact, as Illinois Review reported, it appears that the IL GOP was using Darren Bailey’s endorsement list as a “hit list” for conservatives, attacking all but three of his Republican candidates during the primary.

Chairman Tracy, was this being “strictly neutral” in the Republican gubernatorial primary?

Fifth, in a document shared exclusively with Illinois Review, in September Tracy appointed Nimish Jani, to the Executive Committee of the IL GOP. Jani is a former State Central Committee member who had endorsed Irvin and appears to have rigged a straw poll in Lake County last June in favor of Irvin.

Chairman Tracy, was this being “strictly neutral” in the Republican gubernatorial primary?

Sixth, at the Sangamon County Lincoln Day Dinner, Tracy forbade conservative gubernatorial candidates Gary Rabine and Darren Bailey – both of whom attended the event despite Irvin being a no-show, from speaking to the crowd of at least 800 people, and further instructed TPUSA founder and CEO Charlie Kirk, who delivered the keynote, from mentioning Rabine’s name.

Instead, Tracy permitted Lt. Governor candidate Avery Bourne to speak to the crowd and gush about Richard Irvin’s campaign.

Chairman Tracy, was this being “strictly neutral” in the Republican gubernatorial primary?

Seventh, the exclusive audio in which Don Tracy admits to allowing the Irvin campaign to use the IL GOP postage discount proves that the IL GOP was supporting the Irvin campaign during the primary. It begs the question, was Tracy lying in July, shortly after the July 28th primary in which Richard Irvin lost the Republican primary to conservative Darren Bailey by 42 points, or was Tracy lying now, after the Illinois Review has brought this situation to light.

Chairman Tracy, was this being “strictly neutral” in the Republican gubernatorial primary?

Eighth, Tracy’s own donation record on the Illinois State Board of Elections website demonstrates that he had a personal liking for candidates who had endorsed Irvin, as Tracy did not donate to anyone else.

Chairman Tracy, was this being “strictly neutral” in the Republican gubernatorial primary?

If ever there were cause for removing Don Tracy from chair of the IL GOP, it would seem this list would be more than sufficient, on top of so much more.

But there is more.

While the list above is unsavory, Tracy’s last act contradicts the Party Platform of the IL GOP.

Tracy permitted the IL GOP to pay for, endorse, and send out a pro-choice mailer on behalf of Greg Hart, Republican candidate for DuPage County Chairman. A clear violation of the Republican Party of Illinois’ Party Platform.

Sources confirm to Illinois Review that Hart is on a short list of those to replace his protégé Durkin, who resigned last week.

While most Illinois Republicans would find Chairman Tracy’s record to be abhorrent, at Illinois Review, he is proving to be consistent. After all, Tracy’s family business donated to Joe Biden’s presidential campaign, and Tracy ran for State Senate as a Democrat.

Don Tracy, who’s side are you really on?

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4 COMMENTS

  1. Unfortunately, Don Tracy knows who voted him into power—the local Republican leaders that are elected by patronage hacks because nobody else will run for precinct committeeman that elects those country and congressional district leaders. Until conservatives start acting like liberals, running for local office from precinct committeeman on up and taking scalps in the primary, we are going to continue to get leaders like Tracy and their awful candidates that waste resources and media like Richard Irvin.