Guethle. Yes, Again. And Again, and Again…

by , posted on Sunday, March 18th, 2018 at 11:01 am

Not long ago I wrote this post about Guethle’s smear mailer against Pete Janko, his opponent in the 14th Democratic State Central Committeeman race. But the mailer was just the opening volley in what is turning out to be a comprehensive – and expensive – arm of Mike Madigan’s campaign to hold on to power at all costs.

That smear mailer was quickly followed by this letter:

And then things went multi-media.

Then I received this robocall “paid for by friends of Michael J Madigan”:

Then this robocall from Dick Durbin

And then, on Wednesday night I received this robocall “paid for by Friends of Mark Guethle”:

Quickly followed by my discovery of this email in my inbox:

From: “Mark Guethle”
Date: March 14, 2018 at 7:36:47 PM CDT
To: Lisa Bennett
Subject: Support Kristina Zahorik, Mark Guethle and the Democratic Party
Reply-To: “Mark Guethle”

Dear Friends!

With just 10-20 minutes of your time, you can make a huge difference in helping Democrats up and down the ballot win.

Donald Trump and Bruce Rauner want to deny funding for Planned Parenthood and eliminate lifesaving breast cancer screenings for 12,000 women.

Kristina Zahorik and Mark Guethle are standing up to Donald Trump’s extreme agenda and fighting for us.

They are endorsed by the AFL-CIO, Secretary of State Jesse White and Senator Dick Durbin because they know that personal medical decisions should be made between women and their doctors.

Please support Kristina Zahorik, Mark Guethle and fellow Democrats in opposing Donald Trump and Bruce Rauner’s dangerous cuts.

The most impactful thing you can do is spread the word about Democrats to your friends, family and colleagues and ask for their support. Our voter outreach tool will quickly figure out which of them are registered voters that can vote for the campaign.

The best part? You can do this from the comfort of your own home on your own schedule.

Spread the Word

While I would normally blank out someone’s actual email address, Emily Wurth is the Operations Manager for the Democratic Party of Illinois, so I thought it important to consider that an actual official of the Illinois Democratic Party is promoting one candidate over another in a contested primary for an actual party position, and apparently using party resources to do so. That may be legal – although I don’t know if it is really, I’m no lawyer – but it’s certainly shameless. And, imho, unethical. Plus one wonders who is paying for that communication. Because it doesn’t say. And, lawyer or no, I am entirely certain that disclosure of that information is required.

Anyway, it was at this point that it occurred to me that I have never before, in my long recollection of being polled, push-polled, canvassed, called, robocalled, mailed to, emailed, and most recently texted, received so much as one contact urging me to vote for anyone in a Democratic State Central Committee race. And now I am being bombarded with this stuff?

Knowing that this stuff is expensive, and that the likes of Durbin and Duckworth don’t offer up endorsements and record calls in contested down ballot Democratic Party primary races like, ever, I decided to do what Deep Throat taught us all to do: follow the money.

I looked up Guethle’s suddenly ever-present Friends of Mark Guethle campaign committee.

It turns out that, if Guethle’s reporting is anything to go by, my recollection was not failing me. His campaign committee was so low dollar and so low activity in previous cycles, that he was forced to file to reactivate it in January of this year. In fact, here is his final report from 2016, the entry preceding the reactivation, where he zeroed out this committee in December by donating his entire $1,063.10 balance to another candidate.

But since that reactivation in January? Well now, that’s a different story, with whole new and exciting dollar amounts involved.

Things like:

2-26-18 $3,212.30 – postage, contributed by Friends of Michael J Madigan

2-26-18 $1,356.25 – printing, contributed by Friends of Michael J Madigan

3-2-18 $1,356.25 – printing, contributed by Friends of Michael J Madigan

3-2-18 $3,212.30 – postage, contributed by Friends of Michael J Madigan

3-13-18 $3,212.30 – postage, contributed by Friends of Michael J Madigan

Guess there’s yet another mailer to come. And that’s the thing with these reports, they certainly aren’t final, and at this point include only amounts contributed over that thousand dollar limit. Nor does that $12,349.40 total include funds expended on Guethle’s behalf, but directly paid for by “Friends of Michael J Madigan” but not laundered through Guethle’s account, or funds Madigan spent to re-elect Guethle and Zahorik that were funneled through Zahorik’s campaign rather than Guethle’s.

This all makes a great deal of sense, considering what Madigan is getting up to around and about the state, in terms of supporting only those who have pre-pledged to vote for him.

At about the same time I was publishing that first Guethle post, there was a flurry of posts on Facebook of a smear mailer aimed at Elizabeth Lindquist and Ed Klein, also candidates for the Democratic State Central Committee. There have since been various posts, interviews and news stories that assert that these candidates, and about a dozen more candidates for State Democratic Central Committee from around the state, were targeted precisely because they refused to pre-pledge their support to Mike Madigan.

The stories are all pretty consistent and go something like this one:

Maggie Wunderly is running for the obscure post of Illinois Democratic Party committeewoman for Illinois’ 11th Congressional District and says she was motivated to get into politics because of Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign. She says she was approached by intermediaries of Madigan in December with a simple proposition.

“If I pre-pledge my vote to Madigan, then he would not spend money against me in the race,” Wunderly says the intermediaries told her. She declined to name who they were, but says multiple people who knew Madigan but did not know each other reached out to her with the same message. “I decided not to do the deal, because I thought it was unethical to pledge my vote ahead of the election.”

In fact, she says the offer extended to 12 other candidates running for Democratic committeeman and committeewoman who had been endorsed by the pro-Sanders Our Revolution Illinois group. The message was: promise to re-elect Madigan as party chair, and he’ll stay out of your race.

From the looks of Guethle’s campaign account, he has no problems, ethical or otherwise, with pre-pledging his support to protecting Madigan’s power, if it in turn serves to protect his own, but it is altogether odd for someone who in February, when closing out the regular Kane County Dem meeting, said something on the order of this:

I just wanted to bring up the issue of sexual harassment. I sent a letter to every major Democrat I know in Illinois about this issue, including Durbin, Duckworth, and Madigan. And even though I haven’t spoken more then few words to him in the past 5 years, Madigan was the only one to reply with a letter of his own, in which he agreed on the importance of taking this issue seriously. The only one. So despite all of the attacks against Madigan you see on TV, he’s fighting for us. He’s the reason we’ve been able to protect unions with Rauner in office. So I just want you to know that he’s not a bad guy.

That’s nowhere near a direct quote, as it’s just a recollection, but there were a whole lot of people there who will no doubt recall that he said something very like that in defense of Madigan’s at the height of his sexual harassment scandal woes.

But extraordinary times – in this case a threat to what Lindquist calls “a good old boy network that’s all about power, control, intimidation and harassment” – apparently call for extraordinary measures. So despite Guethle’s assertion during that defense that he hasn’t exchanged more than a few words with Madigan in years, Madigan appears to believe it makes total sense to engage in a shameless expenditure of time and $12,349.40 to secure Guethle’s one vote, when that time and money could rather be spent defeating Republicans this fall.

But of course it’s not just Guethle. In fact Guethle may be one of Madigan’s cheaper votes. If you multiply what he’s spent through Guethle’s campaign by the fourteen candidates he’s targeted you get something like $175,000, while one of the candidates he’s targeted has told me the total figure statewide is approaching a quarter of a million dollars. That’s a lot of cash to spend taking out fellow Dems.

It’s time for Madigan to go. And it’s time for the flunkies who are entrusted with a vote they have pre-pledged to use to keep him in power to go too.

Guethle is no innocent bystander in Madigan’s rampage. That $12,349.40 was accepted and expended on behalf of Guethle keeping his place in Madigan’s power pyramid scheme.

It’s really, really hard to fight the kind of carpet-bombing of advertising Madigan has executed on Guethle’s behalf, but we are not powerless.

You can fight Madigan by doing something to support Peter Janko, who is running against Guethle for Democratic State Central Committeeman. And while you’re at it please also support Zahorik’s opponent for Democratic State Central Committeewoman in the 14th Alison Squires.

And don’t forget Adrien Aaron, who is running against Guethle for precinct committee person.


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