The Illinois State Board of Elections has decided not to formally discipline the political action committee responsible for the McHenry Times based on a complaint alleging the group violated campaign finance laws.
Republican Precinct Committeeman Kenneth Cabay of Lake in the Hills filed the complaint Feb. 25 alleging that Liberty Principles coordinated with East Dundee Republican Allen Skillicorn. The complaint pointed to a front-page piece in a newspaper-style mailing that included quotes from Skillicorn. Cabay also alleged Liberty Principles, run by conservative Dan Proft, did not properly disclose who paid for the content.
Director of Campaign Disclosure Tom Newman said state law prohibits independent expenditure committees such as Liberty Principles from making coordinated expenditures with a candidate or a candidate’s committee.
“The downside being there’s no definition in the law of what qualifies as coordination,” Newman said.
In a closed preliminary hearing March 3, a hearing officer and general counsel found the complaint to have been made on justifiable grounds and said the PAC should be admonished, according to hearing records. But the board during a March 14 hearing unanimously decided the complaint did not warrant a public hearing.
Proft, whose PAC published seven other newspaper-style mailings throughout the state leading up to the March 15 primary, called the order the “definition of victory” in the adjudication process.
“Those that complained for political reasons were wrong, and we were vindicated by the State Board of Elections,” Proft said.
Skillicorn, who declared victory in the 66th District primary last week, said he was unaware he had been mentioned in the complaint.
“I send out dozens of press releases to reporters, bloggers and activists,” Skillicorn said in a written statement. “Some run the press releases, some do not. I can’t control that.”
The board did include in its order instructions for Liberty Principles to include the phrase “paid for by” on future campaign literature or be subject to a $5,000 fine. The mailings had included a note declaring Liberty Principles as the publisher.
A similar complaint was filed regarding the Lake County Gazette and Republican Dan McConchie, the presumed primary winner in the 26th Illinois House District. Newman said the complaint is scheduled for a closed preliminary hearing April 11.