Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Political Campaigns of Bianchi and Birkett Paid Media Consultants Contracted by Illinois Office of the State's Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor

ILSAAP "Game Changers" Provided Extensive One-On-One Tax-Paid Consulting to Their Political Clients -- Louis Bianchi & ILSAAP Vice Chairman Joe Birkett. 

While under contract for media consulting for the Illinois Office of the State's Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor (ILSAAP), Reverse Spin of Wheaton was paid for campaign work for McHenry County State's Attorney Louis Bianchi and former DuPage County State's Attorney/ILSAAP Board of Governors Vice Chairman Joe Birkett.

ILSAAP contracted Reverse Spin from January 2008 through June 2009 for media consulting. Reverse Spin is co-owned by Dan Curry and John Pearman, self-dubbed as "game changers". (Reverse Spin renamed its firm Delos Communications. From October through December 2007, the state agency had contracted with Reverse Spin's predecessor, Curry Public Strategies.) 

According to activity reports submitted to ILSAAP, Reverse Spin also devoted considerable one-on-one tax-paid time with these two political clients -- especially Bianchi. It remains unknown what project at Bianchi's office required the urgent and extensive work of an ILSAAP media consultant starting Oct. 1, 2007.

In 2008, the Committee to Re-Elect Louis Bianchi paid Reverse Spin $5,500 -- $2,500 for media production for the primary election and $3,000 for consultation and materials. In 2008 and 2009, Citizens to Elect Joe Birkett had paid Reverse Spin $49,500 for consulting. Birkett announced his bid for Illinois attorney general in July 2009, then pulled out of the race one month later. 

Prior to the ILSAAP contract, Citizens to Elect Joe Birkett had paid Curry Public Strategies over $55,000 for the state's attorney's run for Illinois Lieutenant Governor. When Birkett teamed up with Judy Baar Topinka after the 2006 primary, Topinka's gubernatorial campaign paid the media consultant $28,000.

In January 2008, Coalition for a Safe DuPage -- a short-lived tax-increase initiative with Birkett listed as chairman and treasurer -- paid Curry Public Strategies $10,000; $3,500 of this amount was contributed by Birkett's campaign.

Reverse Spin's campaign work was never brought up as a potential conflict of interest to the ILSAAP Board of Governors, according to meeting minutes. When Vice Chairman Birkett made the motion for Reverse Spin's contract renewal on Sept. 25, 2008, Citizens to Elect Joe Birkett had paid the consultant $4,000 just eight days earlier; the Committee to Re-Elect Louis Bianchi made a payment of $1,500 nine days earlier. Reverse Spin's renewed 2008-2009 contract was increased by over $4,000 per month from the previous year.

ILSAAP Board of Governors first discussed hiring the media consultants at a special board meeting held Aug. 30, 2007. Three weeks later, the Board voted for a contract at a regular meeting. The first project in the state was to begin working extensively one-on-one with Bianchi on Oct. 1st. No reference of the the media consultants/ spokespersons can be located in the McHenry County mainstream news during their contracts.

While under contract with ILSAAP, the consultants were also paid $28,000 by the campaign of Steven Greenberg, Republican candidate for the U.S. District 8.  

Through it all, Curry Public Strategies/Reverse Spin were receiving $3,000 per month as media consultants/spokespersons for the DuPage County Election Commission. DuPage is not under the jurisdiction and oversight of the County -- the only county election board with this structure in Illinois. Complaints are presented directly to the state's attorney's office. The DuPage County Auditor's on-line checkbook shows that Reverse Spin continues to work for the Commission.

Birkett was appointed to the Second District Illinois Appellate Court last December.

Photos of three of Reverse Spin's political clients -- Bianchi, Birkett and Greenberg -- campaigning at the Pro-Life Pig Roast at Compass Ridge Conference Center in McHenry County on June 22, 2008 can still be viewed at Cal Skinner's McHenry County Blog.

The ILSAAP contract expired several years ago, but apparently not the media consultant's involvement with Bianchi. Curry has reportedly been conducting public relations for the state's attorney's defense with attorney Terry Ekl.

McHenryLeaks asks:

Where was the line drawn between campaigning and the one-on-one tax-paid state work for Bianchi and Birkett? Just how did that work? 

Why did Reverse Spin change its name to Delos Communications?

According to the Board of Governors meeting minutes, neither Reverse Spin nor Vice Chairman Birkett made disclosures regarding campaign work as a potential conflict of interest. If they did not, should they have? 

The consultant/spokesperson for Birkett's state-wide campaigns was hardly a secret. If the ILSAAP Board of Governors were aware of this information, what was their decision-making process for approving contracts with Reverse Spin?

Does paying the "game changers" for campaign work while receiving one-on-one tax-paid consulting come close to meeting the criteria for the appearance of impropriety? Or is it, like everything else on this anonymous blog, pure happenstance? 

Did Reverse Spin come up with the catchy 2009 campaign slogan, "Joe Birkett for Illinois. Proven Leader. Proven Corruption Buster."?

A McHenryLeaks Diatribe:

In 2008, when Birkett's "Coalition for a Safe DuPage" tax-increase initiative kicked off, the citizenry, lowly out-of-county attorneys, and THE PRESS were forced to stand in long lines in the morning rush outside the front door of the DuPage County Court House in sub-zero January wind chills.

 Allegedly, half the security guards normally assigned to keep out DuPage's riff raff had been yanked due to sudden "funding issues". Only a few guards were left to herd les miserables single file through metal detectors and to uphold DuPage's exclusive no-camera-phones-allowed-in-court-lest-you-take-snapshots-of-snoozing-judges rule. Strangely, no other county law enforcement cuts were visible or reported at the time. But, boy, those two or three extra security guards to ease the morning gridlock were putting DuPage in the red.  

Frozen toes and missed court appearances created pandemonium aplenty. No public officials made the mistake of greeting the frosty mob; they scurried to the back door.

By chance, was this the handiwork of some gamester to drive home the horrific nightmare of things to come should the Safe DuPage tax increase not pass? Or, just one of many unsolved mysteries of life we must find a way to accept, such as the disappearance of Amelia Earhart and the swallows returning to Capistrano? 

Following are documents found under "expenditures" at the Illinois State Board of Elections' website. Please note that a glitch in the Agency's system causes duplication of entries; dates and amounts should be checked to arrive at accurate figures. Personal information has been concealed by McHenryLeaks. To enlarge, click or double-click the image: