John Tillman and the scam that is the very profitable non-profit Illinois Policy Institute.

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Cartoon: Susie Cagle, special to ProPublica Illinois,

Today the Chicago Sun-Times and Pro-Publica Illinois have published some real investigative journalism exposing the scam that is the Illinois Policy Institute.

Thanks to journalists Mick Dumke and Tina Sfondeles for doing the hard work.

Frankly, I am more use to reading news items about pensions, for example, where reporters end up going to IPI for talking points rather than investigating them.

Or at least not being in the least bit skeptical.

The next time you see Tillman or one of his IPI cronies on public television’s Chicago Tonight you will, based on this story, question the credibility of the source.

Over the last several years, some Tillman associates also led or owned for-profit companies that were paid by the institute or its nonprofit partners.

  • In 2015, the Illinois Opportunity Project paid $102,000 to AKJ Consulting of Hinsdale — an entity whose agent and manager is Pat Hughes, one of the co-founders and leaders of the Illinois Opportunity Project. Hughes also holds positions at the Liberty Justice Center and Illinois Policy Institute.
  • In 2014, Think Freely Media reported paying $64,000 to Dan Proft as a consultant. Proft, another founder of the Illinois Opportunity Project, was a senior fellow at the institute until taking a leave to focus on political work, which includes running the political action committee Liberty Principles. During 2015 and 2016, Think Freely also paid $211,500 to Starfish Consulting LLC, which lists Proft as its president in its state registration.

Nonprofits, according to experts, should avoid transactions that benefit their leaders because they risk violating their tax-exempt status. At the very least, such deals should only be made after a bid process or other formal steps that ensure the charity is getting the most for its money and sticking to its mission.

Check out this important investigative report.

And again, kudos to a couple of real investigative reporters.

2 Replies to “John Tillman and the scam that is the very profitable non-profit Illinois Policy Institute.”

  1. And that’s not all. The Illinois state constitution prevents reductions in benefits, and strong union opposition to any such changes make reform extremely difficult, but some reforms are still possible. “Pension benefits themselves are untouchable,” note Dabrowski and John Klingner, “but lawmakers can freeze salaries, cut the subjects of collective bargaining, reduce headcounts, in order to reduce future payouts.” (p. 21)

    1. Yes they can. But then there is a political price to pay. Just ask former Governor “I was born to cut pensions” Quinn.

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