-By Warner Todd Huston
Apparently political gadflay William J. Kelly has become the subject of political intrigue this month with a wave of pro and anti Kelly info making its way to my email inbox. I have no clue why Kelly is suddenly a hot topic, but it is what it is.
OK, get ready to get into the weeds on all this as this entry is going to be a long one…
Let’s start out with the pro Kelly stuff.
So, I was sent an email with some info about donations to one of Kelly’s many campaigns and after that I began getting other emails apparently trying to brush aside any concerns over those donations.
Someone apparently on the pro-Kelly side was making sure I was sent an email with a link to a 2012 piece on a site with the odd name of the “Internet Troll Safety Center.”
That blog entry was a bit quixotic. On one hand it says that political operative Doug Ibendahl was “paid by Otto Engineer’s Jack Roeser to smear William Kelly, Kelly’s fiancé Laura Kelly, and Kelly’s deceased father, William F. Kelly.”
“[Ibendahl] made phone calls, sent out hundreds of emails, and posted on blogs all the false unsubstantiated rumors. He wrote about Kelly over and over again–without any proof of the facts,” the blog post says.
It then categorically denies that Kelly was in any way working with Judy Baar Topinka and features a letter by Ibendahl himself re-stating that assertion.
What is odd about all this? Well, for one thing Ibendhal was supposedly representing Kelly as the latter’s attorney at the same time Kelly says that Ibendahl was working against him in coordination with Jack Roeser’s office. Which is the truth? I’m not sure it matters at this point. But this was the assertions in 2012.
It is also odd that Ibendahl appeared several times as a welcomed guest on Kelly’s own radio show.
Anyway, was Ibendhal being “paid” by Kelly enemy Jack Roeser to “smear” Kelly or was Ibendahl woking for Kelly?
Your guess is as good as mine. I do not know and am not stating one way or the other. In fact, I don’t really care one way or the other. I have no dog in that fight. I am just relaying the issues as they were stated by the pro-Kelly blog and as they are told on other websites.
(Disclosure: For several years I have hosted an ad for Roeser’s radio show, Champion News, on my website. These ads appear on my blog in exchange for Roeser’s helping me pay my way to CPAC for the last few years. I’ve found donations from several sources to help me pay my way to CPAC, not just Mr. Roeser. That is the only financial relationship I’ve ever had to Jack Roeser.)
So, what was this emailing of a 2012 blog entry in reaction to? Apparently new emails are being circulated that say in 2010 Kelly had joined into a backroom agreement with long-time GOP establishment politician Judy Baar Topinka to help her win her election as Comptroller.
This was always the rumor. I heard it many times in 2010 but never saw any proof of the claims. Still, many claimed that the only reason that Kelly ran for Comptroller in 2010 was to make sure that Jim Dodge didn’t make any electoral headway against Topinka in that race.
The 2010 comptroller primary race was a three-way race between long-time, center left establishment candidate Topinka looking to award herself yet another state pension in an easy, do-nothing position from which she could retire after a decades-long political career, the well-qualified south sider Jim Dodge and bon vivant William J. Kelly.
Kelly surprised everyone by coming in second in that primary, but it was rumored that the only reason he got into the race at all was as a deal with Topinka to make sure Dodge would lose.
(Disclosure: Even though at that time and for two years afterward I was working with Kelly on various projects and appeared as his sidekick for a while on the radio, I supported Jim Dodge in that primary. I had no ill feelings or problems with Kelly at that time as a look at my website reveals. I just felt Dodge was a better candidate. That is all.)
Kelly and I doing the radio show.
Of course, there were rumors of payoffs from Topinka to Kelly, but no records of monies changing hands between Topinka or her followers and Kelly ever turned up.
The mew email I was talking about contained links to the state elections website showing donations made to Kelly by Topinka in 2013. In fact, it shows Topinka giving Kelly a whopping 20 thousand dollars!
The donations went to Kelly’s REV Productions (go to the Sec. of State’s website at this page and type in REV Productions and it will show the company registered to Kelly).
That is quite a lot of money.
Some are saying that this is the long awaited payoff for Kelly’s running interference for Topinka in 2010.
But even it was, so what? Politicians support each other all the time, right? Why does it matter if Topinka is suddenly generous enough to find thousands of dollars to donate to Kelly years after they vied against each other in a race for comptroller?
OK? Yeah? What’s the big deal?
Well, maybe it’s a bid deal because Kelly has spent years attacking Topinka as a perfect example of what is wrong in Illinois politics.
There are all sorts of examples of Kelly slamming Topinka. A year ago, for instance, Kelly announced that he was forming an exploratory committee for another run at Comptroller for 2014. In that announcement Kelly said that the state is “still not better off” with Topinka as Comptroller.
That, as it happens, is a true statement. Not that a Comptroller has much power to that end, but still.
Say, what ever happened to Topinka’s claim that she was going to work to eliminate the Comptroller’s office, eh? Has she ever made a single move to eliminate her own, cushy, do-nothing job? Nope.
Anyway, back to Kelly and his history of slamming Topinka… For another example, in November of 2012, Kelly claimed that Topinka was really a Democrat in RINO’s clothing for her “unprincipled” support of drivers licenses for illegals.
There have been many more like that over the years, but I’ll just leave it those two to show that Kelly has slammed Topinka as a cynical nominal Republican who has no principals.
Now, there is another aspect to this. For years Kelly has been going around saying that if someone takes a political donation from someone that doesn’t muster up to Conservative principals, why, that must mean they have been corrupted by “dirty money.”
Kelly’s latest crusade has been to attack GOP outsider candidate, businessman Bruce Rauner for Rauner’s long history of donating to Democrats, for his association with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and for Rauner’s wife’s continued association as an avowed Democrat.
(Disclosure, I have not written about the primaries at all, but if the field stays the way it is I will not vote for Rauner in this primary because of his long past support for Democrats. Also because it seems his whole candidacy is built on multiple changes to the state constitution as fixes to what ails us and I think that is a fantasy-laden campaign strategy and even if he wins he won’t be able to fulfill these wild promises.)
Now, in summation, what do we have here? We have a guy going around saying that even a single dollar donated from the “wrong” people makes a candidate a sell out, a RINO, free of any principles, and a traitor to conservative values. Yet that same guy is taking thousands of dollars in donations from a politician that he has repeatedly said is an example of corruption and all that is wrong with the Illinois GOP.
Seems pretty odd, no?
As I begin to close, I want to say this: I am not stating as a fact that Kelly is taking a payoff from someone he claims is corrupt. I am presenting the facts that are on the state’s own website and asking the questions. You make your own conclusions. I have no proof at all that Kelly made any deals with Topinka nor am I stating as a fact that he did so. All I have is what is on the state’s campaign finance reporting websites and the fact that he happily took donations from someone he has repeatedly attacked for years in direct contravention to principles he has claimed to hew to strictly even as he’s attacked others who he says do not.
Again, you make your own conclusions.
Finally, I want to let all readers know that I sent Kelly an email asking for a comment on all this. Instead of a comment addressing these issues I got a reply filled with threats, name calling, and attacks on my integrity.
To that I say, “whatever.” But I did want you all to know that I tried to give Kelly’s camp a chance to reply to all this. They refused to take that opportunity.