Newspaper run by Dan Proft's PAC hits Lake County

  • The Lake County Gazette began landing in some suburban mailboxes this week. Funded by the Liberty Principles PAC, the newspaper aims to support specific political candidates.

      The Lake County Gazette began landing in some suburban mailboxes this week. Funded by the Liberty Principles PAC, the newspaper aims to support specific political candidates. Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 2/19/2016 12:13 PM
A previous version of this story incorrectly said Liberty Principles PAC was involved in a campaign against state Rep. Ed Sullivan. This version has been corrected.

A new newspaper started landing in some suburban mailboxes this week with articles about state government and politics that emphasize the points of view of certain Republican candidates running for seats in Springfield.

The Lake County Gazette is one of eight papers statewide mailed by Liberty Principles PAC and is intended to support candidates for office. Liberty Principles PAC is run by conservative radio host and former GOP candidate for governor Dan Proft.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Proft said it's no secret his publication comes with a point of view. He says that for that reason, the newspaper is superior to more traditional media because it's upfront about its opinions.

"If another candidate doesn't like our newspaper, they can start their own," Proft said.

The other side

Not everyone sees it that way.

One of the candidates the newspaper highlights is Republican Dan McConchie of Hawthorn Woods, who faces primary opponents in Barrington Hills Mayor Martin McLaughlin and Mettawa Mayor Casey Urlacher in the race to replace state Sen. Dan Duffy of Lake Barrington.

"They have to create phony newspapers to fake positive 'articles' about their candidate, and I'm sure eventually 'endorse' him," McLaughlin spokesman Collin Corbett said.

Urlacher said he hadn't yet seen the paper.

McConchie said late Wednesday he hadn't yet seen the newspaper, either. He's quoted in its stories and says he appreciates support of his candidacy.

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Independent committees can't coordinate with candidates directly.

"I don't control what they say," McConchie said.

Local news

The front page of the Lake County Gazette includes stories highlighting McConchie's and Republican Illinois House candidate Rod Drobinski's reactions to the campaign spending questions swirling around former Democratic lawmaker and new state Auditor General Frank Mautino.

But not all the content is political. Most of the advertising comes from the nonprofit Ad Council, and other editorial content includes a page highlighting certain local high school athletes and schedules, plus local stories about Lake Villa and Deerfield and a listing of the top 25 property tax payers in Lake County for 2013.

Proft says the paper will be published weekly indefinitely.

The money

Proft's Liberty Principles has worked on behalf of candidates in the 2014 campaign cycle, backing primary opponents to Republican state Rep. Ron Sandack of Downers Grove, for example.

This time, suburban Republican incumbent lawmakers aren't facing any primary challenges, though the committee is supporting candidates for some seats coming open like Duffy's.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Liberty Principles was recently in the news for receiving $1.8 million from the campaign committee Turnaround Illinois, which is almost entirely funded by big donations from Gov. Bruce Rauner and former Chicago Tribune owner Sam Zell. Zell gave $4 million. Rauner gave $250,000.

Debate time

The Democrats running for the U.S. Senate seat held by Republican Sen. Mark Kirk are set to meet in their first televised debate Friday.

The debate between U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth of Hoffman Estates, former Chicago Urban League CEO Andrea Zopp of Chicago and state Sen. Napoleon Harris of Harvey is scheduled for 7 p.m. and set to be aired on ABC 7 Chicago's digital channel 7.2, as well as on the station's website. It will run again at 10:35 p.m on ABC 7.

Budget follow-up

Last year, local mayors were worried after the governor proposed cutting their share of state income taxes in half.

So what did he propose this year? Two paths.

On the path Rauner presented that would include his Turnaround Agenda and some kind of tax hike, that local money would be left alone.

The other path gives Rauner broad budget-cutting powers, including to alter the law that sends that tax money back to local governments, among others.

Democrats don't appear likely to give that power, but that money has been eyed by administrations of both parties in previous years. So it could come up again.

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