By Illinois Review
During Thursday night’s Will County Republican Central Committee meeting, Will County Republican Chair Tim Ozinga and his board were left stunned, when grassroots conservatives showed up to the meeting with copies of mailers, proving that the Republican Party of Illinois took sides and targeted conservative candidates during the April 4th election, despite party officials denying any involvement.
Earlier this week, Illinois Review reported that IL GOP general counsel John Fogarty, who is still paid by the state party – and continues to serve as a top aide to IL GOP chair Don Tracy, was, behind the scenes, approving the usage of the IL GOP postage discount to target a slate of conservative grassroots candidates in Will County during the April 4th election cycle.
Fogarty is one of only a few officials in charge of the IL GOP postage discount – a benefit that implies an endorsement by the IL GOP, and allows candidates and slates to flood mailboxes with mailers at a significantly lower cost than what their opponents would pay – creating an unfair competitive advantage.
At first, during Thursday’s meeting, committee members, including Ozinga denied any involvement – even going so far as to try and discredit this publication for reporting on the original story earlier in the week.
But when grassroots conservatives presented actual copies of the mailers, and passed them around the meeting as evidence, the board members were stunned and in total disbelief that copies of the mailers – a key piece of evidence, still existed.
Sources in the room confirmed with Illinois Review that Ozinga’s face turned red and his hands started trembling – and he immediately picked up his cell phone and started texting.
Sources also confirm to Illinois Review that since last night, Ozinga is in DEFCON 1, and he’s been making phone calls to allies in a panic, trying to figure out how to make this revelation go away.
After initially denying the party’s involvement in the April 4th election, Ozinga immediately pivoted, after evidence (the actual mailers) was presented, that he had no control over who had use of the IL GOP postage discount.
However, that was immediately proven to be a lie, when an attendee pointed out that the executive director of the IL GOP stated in a phone call that Ozinga did in fact control who could use the IL GOP postage discount – once again, leaving Ozinga silenced and shaken.
This past March, Ozinga made a $25,000 payment to the Republican Party of Illinois. On that very same day, he also made a $100,000 wire transfer into the account of the Will County Republican Central Committee.
Odd, considering the Will County Republican Central Committee wasn’t supporting any campaigns at that time. And sources shared with Illinois Review that they have no idea what $125,000 could be used for in the last weeks of the April 4th election other than mailers and postage.
During the 2022 Republican Primary for governor, Ozinga endorsed the anti-conservative grassroots candidate Richard Irvin, who in previous elections, pulled Democratic Primary ballots in 2014, 2016 and 2020.
Prior to running for governor, Irvin spent years praising Democrat Gov. JB Pritzker, referring to him as a, “great friend and a great leader.”
And in 2020, Irvin spoke at a Black Lives Matter rally yelling, “I can’t breathe!”
In addition to Irvin, Ozinga also endorsed Republican Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau, who was running for Congress in the 6th District.
In February, Pekau honored former US Rep. Marie Newman, a “progressive” Democrat who was in town to receive the Orland Park Community Appreciation Award from Pekau.
Pekau spent the last year attacking Newman on social media, even tweeting,
“Anti-police rhetoric & attempts to defund the police by radical leftists like Sean Casten & Marie Newman have put our communities at risk. As mayor of Orland Park, I’ve stood with law enforcement & kept our community safe. I’ll continue to do so as your congressman.”
But a year later, Pekau was publicly showering Newman with praise and honoring her with an award.
During her time in Congress, Newman was a member of the Progressive Caucus.
During the pandemic, Newman and her husband Jim Newman owned shares in Moderna – the manufacturer of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccines and boosters.
And so it is no surprise that Newman was supportive of vaccinating children during the pandemic, writing in a Facebook post,
“The COVID-19 vaccine is now authorized for kids ages 5-11 in addition to everyone 12+. Vaccines are widely available across Illinois. Get vaccinated.”
And so it’s no wonder Ozinga and Fogarty collaborated to target the conservative base of the party – they were confident no one would be smart enough to figure it out.
But as Thursday’s meeting proved – the joke’s on them.
Wow! Lots to unpack here.
First, congratulations to the people who took advantage of the fact the Will County Republican Central Committee’s leadership meets monthly on the 3rd Thursday in New Lenox! Wish some of the people who confronted Chairman Ozinga had been named, starting with their leaders. But no matter, the Will County Republican Central Committee leadership will all be up for election next April 17 at the Will County Republican Convention. I do find it questionable why Ozinga was back in town when the Illinois General Assembly was still meeting, but that’s beside the point.
Now, what was unpacked. Who really controls the IL GOP’s bulk/presorted 1st class mail permit. The article said at first, John Fogarty, then it says Tim Ozinga, presumably in his role as state central committeeperson for the 1st Congressional District.
Could Fogarty have allowed local candidates to use the IL GOP’s mail permit WITHOUT Ozinga’s knowledge let alone his consent? All I’ve read about Fogarty here, is if he were a paid consultant to any campaigns for Apri 4, that is a distinct possibility and that may be the reason Ozinga was caught by surprise.
So, I checked the receipts, better known as the 1st Quarter State Board of Elections campaign disclosure filings for the Will County Republicans, as well as Ozinga’s state representative political committee. As said elsewhere, Ozinga transferred from his campaign committee $100K to the Will County GOP. But reviewing the Will County GOP expenses and transfers-out, there was no campaign spend found during the 1st Quarter (1/1/23-3/31/23). None. The Will County GOP ended the quarter with over $104K cash-on-hand, and over $17K of debt from 2021 (curious, why doesn’t Will County GOP simply pay down the debt?).
Ozinga’s campaign account showed no expenses or transfers to ANY April 4 campaign, EXCEPT a trustee in Lockport, nowhere near Homer Glen and the issues brought up earlier this week.
Through March 31, no smoking gun saying Illinois Republicans, Will County Republicans or Ozinga’s campaign account actually funded the non-conservative candidates in Homer Glen. Maybe something will show in the 2nd Quarter filings, but those won’t be made public until mid-July, and I’m sure many will be awaiting when those D-2s hit the State Board of Elections’ website.
Maybe some of the Will County grassroots candidates directly impacted by their opposition using the IL GOP mail permit should file a complaint with the State Board of Elections, because the use of the permit, and the significant savings in postage it afforded, MUST be reported as an in-kind contribution from someone. Maybe that’ll be on the 2nd Quarter report for the Homer Glen committees, but for now, it’s unknown.
There’s enough doubt that Ozinga could have been in the dark of Fogarty’s use of the IL GOP mail permit, but it doesn’t absolve Ozinga completely.
It’s interesting, because Will County Republicans last fall ended the Democratic control of the Will County Board, while not flipping the Board majority, achieved an 11-11 split. Because one of the Democrats had to catch a flight out of town during the organizational meeting in December of the Will County Board, the Will County executive could not cast the tie-breaking vote in the election of the Board Chair, which the Republicans won due to the missing Democrat who had left the meeting early.
Ozinga can claim that success under his watch.
But since, according to campaign disclosure reports seen to-date, Ozinga can’t claim credit for the few bright spots on April 4 in Will County.
For example, the open Naperville mayoral race was won by center-right Scott Wehrli, and Wehrli bested his Will County opponent in his own backyard by over 1,200 votes from the Will County portion of Naperville (34% of Naperville population) where his leftist opponent and member of the city council lived. Wehrli won citywide by over 2,000 votes over two candidates.
Then the flipping of the Joliet mayor by a center-right businessman on April 4.
Since Ozinga’s Will County Republicans or his political committee didn’t contribute financially to the wins, it is still unclear if the Will County Republican chairman contributed directly, indirectly or through negligence to the losses by conservatives on April 4.
Those 2nd Quarter filings in July will tell the whole story, but for now until I see more conclusive evidence, I’m convinced Fogarty is the real bad guy in my honest opinion, based on limited facts.
Can you disclose some of the mailers? Who were the candidates benefitting from the postage discount and which conservatives were they running against?
ORLAND PARK VILLAGE PRESIDENT KEITH PEKAU v. AURORA MAYOR RICHARD IRVIN
I constantly see references to Orland Park Village President Keith Pekau (I know, he prefers to be called “mayor”, but he leads a “village” and villages have “presidents” although municipal mayor and president are synonymous in statute) and Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin so here’s an interesting comparison in the context of honoring leftist Democratic congresswomen, brought up in the article about Pekau.
First, the village of Orland Park has a 2020 Census population of just under 53K while the city of Aurora is over 3x bigger, at over 180K.
The population difference aside, both Pekau and Irvin honored leftist Democratic congresswomen, with Pekau honoring ex-Congresswoman Marie Newman in February after she left Congress after losing her bid for reelection in the redrawn 6th Congressional District to Congressman Sean Casten. Pekau also lost to Casten, so immediately, Pekau shared an ignoble honor with Newman, ex Congressman Peter Roskam and former state Representative Jeanne Ives, all losing to Casten in the past 5 years.
It’s not uncommon for a municipal mayor/president to give recognition to a former member of Congress, if not out of politeness, but also out of gratitude for helping constituents with congressional constituent services. Although Newman was in Congress for a single term, her office must have helped some constituents deal with the maze of federal government services.
There’s no evidence Pekau actually helped Newman on leftist policy issues. If Pekau had supported a controversial far left position, or legislation, being pushed by Newman, Illinois Review would have covered it by now.
In Aurora, Mayor Irvin recognized Congresswoman Lauren Underwood shortly after her initial election when she flipped the seat of ex Congressman Randy Hultgren, and even awarded her the “key to the city” which is something big city mayors do. While awarding Underwood the key to the city even before being sworn in during Christmas of 2018 seems a bit premature, Underwood was the youngest black woman ever elected to Congress at age 32, and grew up in neighboring Naperville in Will County, nearly right next door to Aurora.
But where Irvin differed from Pekau was Irvin actually helped Underwood try to undo the Trump Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) of 2017 during her first term in Congress, and Irvin was one of seven Democratic elected officials helping Underwood change the state and local tax deduction limit of $10K.
Irvin was quoted in Underwood press release on June 25, 2019, saying:
“Aurora was built by and is still sustained by hardworking families where every dollar counts. We applaud Congresswoman Underwood for her stalwart efforts and fully support H.R.1757 [changing SALT deduction limits] and its goal of providing tax relief to working families.”
Underwood added the following position/lie, supported by Irvin:
“Middle class families in the 14th District of Illinois are being double-taxed due to changes in the state and local tax deduction from the Republican tax law, all so the one percent and big corporations can get a tax break they don’t need.”
The company Irvin kept while helping Underwood back in 2019 was a suburban Chicago rogue’s gallery:
Jack Franks (D), McHenry County Board Chairman
Larry Walsh (D), Will County Board Executive
Sandy Hart (D), Lake County Board Chair
Richard Irvin, Aurora Mayor
Ray Rogina, St. Charles Mayor
Denise Winfrey (D), Will County Board Speaker
John Wasik (D), Lake County Board Member
The other six local leaders Underwood quoted in addition to Irvin gave similar deceptive statements like the ex-“Republican” candidate for governor who’s mayor of Aurora in the 2019 press releases.
The reason Irvin and the others were deceptive is because it denies the whole truth of federal taxation on all income levels of the TCJA, and the fact the change Underwood is talking about will only benefit the wealthy, and not bring one dime of tax relief to working families. Research from policy think tanks all across the board at that time found the same conclusion be it National Tax Foundation or the Brookings Institute.
But why let the truth get in the way of a good story. In the summer of 2019, the Democrats were pushing for a tax cut for the rich, most wanting to repeal the SALT deduction limits form the Trump tax cuts, and Irvin was pushing the same well-intentioned but empirically data challenged policy.
Where Pekau honored Newman for helping Orland Park residents with constituent services, Irvin went hard left promoting a major policy that was based on Underwood’s lies, and he helped her.
Irvin much worse than Pekau, and Irvin’s 3rd place finish in last year’s gubernatorial primary indicated Republican primary voters weren’t fooled.
WHO IS STRIVE STRATEGIES, LLC & ARE THEY THE RIGHTFUL OWNER OF NEW LENOX POSTAL PERMIT #64?
Listening to Mark Vargas tonight, I once again heard his reference to the New Lenox PO Postal Permit #64, and again alleged (but remains unproven) the Permit #64 is owned by the Illinois Republican Party.
In another thread, Vargas/IR shared they had not seen the “receipts” proving the Permit is actually owned by the IL GOP. The counter argument is likely the Permit #64 is owned by a mail-house vendor and it was their discount, not the IL GOP, that was applied to mailings in the village elections in Homer Glen earlier this year.
Vargas tonight brought up again, the campaign of Sean Morrison in his successful reelection to the Cook County Board last year. So, I pulled up Morrison’s State Board of Elections 4th Quarter report, and found the in-kind contributions from the Illinois Republican Party adding up to $130,200 for campaign mailings, paid for through a vendor called Strive Strategies, LLC for mailing and printing. I had seen that vendor name before from the Homer Glen election last month, but the fact the IL GOP paid for printing and postage does not rule out the legal owner of the Permit #64 could be Strive Strategies, LLC.
The Integrity for Homer Glen political committee, allegedly the anti-grassroots slate for village clerk and trustees, spent $6,162.99 on Strive Strategies’ services, including $730.66 for a mailing, per 1st Quarter State Board of Elections campaign disclosure report.
Integrity for Homer Glen also had a transfer-out of $6,162.99 to the Citizens to Elect Christina Neitzke-Troike, who was Integrity for Homer Glen village president running mate.
In the First Quarter, Citizens to Elect Christina Neitzke-Troike spent $16,635.35 to Strive Strategies, and of the amount, $11,007.16 was for mailings.
Unknown if all of the mailings paid for by Citizens to Elect Christina Neitzke-Troike all used the same Permit #64 as Illinois Review has only shared one of Neitzke-Troike’s mailings, but this goes back to who really owns the Permit — IL GOP or a vendor who does work for Illinois Republicans but also other campaigns.
So who is Strive Stratagies, LLC? It is a firm, according to the Illinois Secretary of State’s corporate database, run by Dennis W. Cook of Wilmette, who was at one time, the chairman of the Young Republicans National Federation. Strive Strategies business address has them based in Oak Brook.
So the only listed member of the Board of Managers of Strive Strategies, LLC had formal ties to a national Republican group.
This is why it’s important to see the receipts from the USPS, and not have them read verbally over the phone. After this bit of digging, I’m more convinced then ever Strive Strategies, LLC, is the real owner of the Permit #64, and not the Illinois Republican Party.
As we stated in response to your comment on another related article, requests by Illinois Review for a third-party forensic auditor to review statements from the USPS to the IL GOP have fallen on deaf ears. Those would seemingly be conclusive. We called on that with respect to Springfield Permit No. 169, which sources have confirmed to Illinois Review is owned by the IL GOP–in addition to Don Tracy’s own verbal admission on exclusive audio in Illinois Review’s possession–that was used on over 40 sets of statewide mailers for the Richard Irvin for Governor campaign. We have confirmed with sources at the USPS that the Office of the Inspector General of the USPS is investigating this matter.
By the way, we understand that 14 sets of mailers went out in Will County relating to this Homer Glen race. Mr. Balich has stated on “Mark My Words” that the cost of postage with the discount is about $4,000 per mailer (Homer Forward paid twice that amount, as the IL GOP declined them the use of the discount). That amounts to over $50,000 in postage. Mr. Balich also stated that postage was paid through the county organization to the state organization. We do agree with you on your comment on another related article that the Q2 disclosures will be revealing, as we only are seeing $25,000 going to the IL GOP on Q1 disclosures.
Well at least we agree on something, referencing the Q2 disclosures will tell us all the full story about IL GOP, any April 4 spending particularly in Will County, and the other committees surrounding the Homer Glen village elections. You and I both know Q2 disclosures won’t come out until July 17 at the latest.
So maybe, Illinois Review and the Homer Glen grassroots can put the nearly 2 months of time between now and mid July to good use. Instead of standing by “We have confirmed with sources” concerning the real ownership of New Lenox Permit #64, the grassroots can do what the grassroots does best, and dig into a local source and expose the truth from the root source.
Like, a recipient of a bulk mailer from the Homer Glen village election (particularly the hit piece against the Homer Forward village president running mate from the phony address with Permit #64) going directly to the local USPS office, preferably in New Lenox, and after showing ID, obtain the irrefutable proof who really owns Permit #64. “Information obtained by Illinois Review” much harder to refute then information from unnamed reliable sources.
At that point, you don’t have to wait for some third-party forensic auditor to review statements when the grassroots have enough to obtain a key statement from USPS itself. You mentioned Steve Balich, whom I don’t know personally, but know he’s been involved in local politics as long as I have (over 25 years).
Someone of Balich’s experience I think would already have this information, and I’d be surprised if him or people close to him, have not already obtained the printed/copy “receipt” of Permit 64 ownership.
Who knows, maybe with the proof in-hand, a “no confidence” vote could succeed at the August SCC meeting beyond the six SCC members who voted no confidence?
A few years back, we saw similar “tricks” played by a political committee here in McHenry County which was finally traced to the Democratic County Board chairman, and actually traced to then-Democratic Chairman Michael Madigan’s people.
Google up a Chicago Tribune article from January 4, 2021, titled “Worth Township trustee who has printed political material for top Dems, including Speaker Madigan, hit with federal tax charge” by Jason Meisner and Ray Long.
Could Strive Strategies, LLC, active in both the IL Republican Party and the Homer Glen village elections per disclosure reports, be the equivalent of Breaker Press of Pilsen and a group known as “Illinois Integrity Fund” (never was an IL political committee)?
The patterns are just too similar, and like we found out 2 1/2 years ago, a mailing is tip-of-the-iceberg stuff.
You know how to reach me by email if you want more information.