ILSAAP Began "Extensive" Contracted Media Consulting for McHenry County State's Attorney Louis Bianchi on Oct. 1, 2007. Two Days Later, Bianchi's Chief Investigator and Campaign Manager Received Phone Call from "An Unnamed Informant" About Former Employee's Transferred Computer Files.
The Illinois Office of the State's Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor (ILSAAP) began extensive, but quiet, contracted media consulting for McHenry County State's Attorney Louis Bianchi starting Oct. 1, 2007, according to an activity report submitted by Curry Public Strategies of Wheaton who would later describe themselves as "game changers".
Two days after the consulting kicked off, "an unnamed informant" phoned the state's attorney chief investigator Ron Salgado that a female employee "close to Bianchi" had transferred office computer files onto a jump or zip drive, accounts the article Daily Herald's Chuck Keeshan wrote after examining court records, "Bianchi's Office Knew of Files". Salgado was also Bianchi's campaign manager.
. He criticized the
’s Attorney’s office, “labeling it a ‘political command post’ for Bianchi and his top advisors". McHenry County State
Three weeks later, a special meeting of the ILSAAP Board of Governors held in Springfield included a detailed discussion of contracting Curry Public Strategies, led by Board Vice Chairman Joe Birkett. Citizens to Elect Joe Birkett had paid the consultants over $55,000 for campaign communications prior to this discussion. The Board unanimously voted for the contract three weeks later following a presentation of the firm's proposal.
"Occasionally, a state's attorney knows something bad is coming out, or something is going to be portrayed as bad will come out...in that event the tactic to be used may be to aggressively pre-empt the prospective bad publicity by putting a positive spin on the case
The October 2007 activity report states that the media consultants had "email exchanges and phone conversations with McHenry County SA over newspaper coverage" for the first nine days, and media-related phone conversations two other days. Later in the month, the consultants met with Bianchi twice, once in Lake Zurich and once in Itasca, to discuss press coverage/issues.
Phone conversations on Oct. 18 and 19 coincide with the Daily Herald article, "McHenry County GOP Chairman Quits", published on Oct. 19. (See timeline below) According to the article, McHenry County Treasurer Bill LeFew said that it would be a conflict of interest to continue in both roles. As treasurer, he would be asked to provide checks in the investigation accusing “Bianchi of spending taxpayer money on political and personal uses".
The meeting with Bianchi in Lake Zurich on Oct. 22 "to discuss press coverage" occurred one day before the Daily Herald published, "Attorney General Receives, Reviewing Bianchi Complaint". The complaint alleged that petty cash funds were misappropriated; the complaint was later dismissed. (See timeline below)
Despite devoting extensive attention on Bianchi off and on from 2007 through 2009, no reference of the ILSAAP media consultants/spokespersons can be located in the McHenry County mainstream news until a month ago.
The last ILSAAP contract expired several years ago, but apparently not the media consultants' involvement with Bianchi. The consultants have reportedly been conducting public relations for the state's attorney's defense with attorney Terry Ekl.
Timeline: August - October 2007
Aug. 8, 2007: Daily Herald publishes, "Former Prosecutor Wants GOP Nomination". According to the article, candidate Dan Regna criticized the
’s Attorney’s office, “labeling it a ‘political command post’ for Bianchi and his top advisers.” McHenry County State
Oct. 18, 2007: Curry Public Strategies' activity report reads: Phone conversation with McHenry County SA about online article on newspaper website.
Curry Public Strategies' activity report reads: Several phone conversations and email exchanges with McHenry County SA about published articles.
McHenryLeaks asks *many* questions:
Why, out of the entire state of Illinois, was McHenry County an immediate and top priority of ILSAAP starting Oct. 1, 2007? Why did the media consultants keep a low profile? Did they not want to give the appearance that Bianchi was being handled by a state agency, after all, doing so might raise suspicions as to why this was even necessary?
Did the October 2007 work of the ILSAAP media consultants have anything to do with Amy Dalby's computer files?
Did the media consultants advise Bianchi on any political or any potential personal legal matters? If yes, is this an appropriate assignment for ILSAAP?
Did the ILSAAP Board of Governors' *special* board meeting on Aug. 30, 2007 have anything to do with McHenry County? The Board had just met on July 18 and were scheduled to meet again on Sept. 19. Normally, the Board meets on a quarterly basis... Did the *special* board meeting have anything to do with allegations of the state's attorney's office as being a "political command post" published on Aug. 8, 2007?
Did the October 2007 work of the ILSAAP media consultants have anything to do with "an emergency situation presenting itself" and "devising a strategy to deal with the media" as described in their proposal to ILSAAP several weeks earlier?
Did the October 2007 work of the ILSAAP media consultants have anything to do with the statement by the media consultants made to the ILSAAP Board of Governors several weeks earlier: "Occasionally, a state's attorney knows something bad is coming out, or something is going to be portrayed as bad will come out...in that event the tactic to be used may be to aggressively pre-empt the prospective bad publicity by putting a positive spin on the case."?
What about those e-mail exchanges between the "McHenry County SA" and the ILSAAP media consultants? Care to share those with the tax payers?
Would ILSAAP or Bianchi be willing to share the October 2007 work product of the media consultants with the tax payers?
Why did the ILSAAP media consultants drive from Wheaton to Lake Zurich to meet with the "McHenry County SA" about press coverage? Why Lake Zurich? Were others at this meeting? Why not one of those "phone conversations" instead of charging us for mileage? Why discuss press-related issues and then not introduce yourselves to the press as the ILSAAP media consultants/ spokespersons?
Why did the ILSAAP media consultants drive from Wheaton to Itasca to meet with the "McHenry County SA" about press-related issues? Why Itasca? Were others at this meeting? It's not a mid-way point between Wheaton and McHenry County. Why not one of those "phone conversations" instead of charging us for mileage? Why discuss press-related issues and then not introduce yourselves to the press as the ILSAAP media consultants/ spokespersons?
After working extensively, but quietly, with McHenry County one-on-one for months, the former ILSAAP media consultants have been reportedly working on Bianchi's defense with Ekl. If this is true, is this ethical, as so much of the rhetoric is supportive of ILSAAP?
The State of Illinois voucher for payment to the media consultants in October 2007 reads: "Professional services rendered to assist the Agency and state's attys on crisis management advice on high profile cases." What was the crisis in McHenry County which required these professional services?
Following is the October 2007 activity report submitted to ILSAAP by Curry Public Strategies, along with the State of Illinois payment voucher. McHenryLeaks has concealed personal information. To enlarge, click or double-click: