Illinois straw poll fiasco embarrasses all Republicans

By DOUG IBENDAHL • November 6, 2011


The good news is only 3,649 “votes” were “cast” in Pat Brady’s Illinois straw poll. Brady was selling votes at $5 a pop so that means only $18,245 was raised.


That will barely cover a third of what the State GOP reported that it owed a couple of Brady’s lawyer friends as of September 30. In addition the organization owed several other payees even more and remains broke. The Illinois Republican Party no longer has a stand alone office and is now shacking up with Mark Kirk’s political shop. (By acknowledging the two are now one in the same, this move is possibly the most honest thing Pat Brady has ever done.)


Pat Brady has lost the trust and confidence of Illinois Republicans. Almost all of the wealthy donors refuse to contribute anymore. If not for a few people throwing big dollars at the State Party this year, we would likely already have forced positive change. But as long as folks like Adam Andrzejewski and Jack Roeser keep throwing money at failed management in a desperate effort to be “liked,” Illinois will keep getting Bluer.


Anyone propping up bad, dishonest GOP management is officially part of the problem, and it’s time more people started saying so.


If he really cared about our Party, Pat Brady would step aside. But he won’t. Mark Kirk is the real head of the Illinois GOP and he wants Brady in that Chairman spot to make certain the GOP here doesn’t get any crazy ideas about mixing it up with Barack Obama. Sure, the Brady/Kirk crowd wants to make certain they are ingratiated with Mitt Romney, the guy many figure will be the next President, but Kirk doesn’t want to risk offending Obama’s voters in his home state. Kirk and Obama share a lot of the same voters. That’s why Pat Brady has our State GOP just going through the motions.


What this means is that other states have to do the real work for 2012. In Illinois we get silly distractions like this straw poll.


No one seriously expects Obama to lose his home state under any conditions, but the Illinois GOP does have a duty to at least erect a speed bump. Brady refuses to help us build the GOP in Illinois. As a result, Illinois Democrats will once again be free to travel to surrounding battleground states like Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri, and Indiana.


Pat Brady’s dishonesty and incompetence therefore extends beyond our own borders and puts the goal of making Obama a one-termer at risk.


With most wealthy people now clued in, Brady tried a Hail Mary to lure some poorer folks with a pay-to-play straw poll. No surprise it was mostly Ron Paul’s supporters who took the bait hook-line-and-sinker. But I won’t be critical. Many of them are really more Libertarian. It’s not surprising they wouldn’t be clued into the Republican Party in Illinois and where their money would be going.


We clearly reached most people with the truth about this straw poll. Despite Pat Brady’s best efforts and constant pushing for months there were only 3,649 “votes.” And who knows if that’s even an honest figure. All we have is the word of a guy who has lied to us many times before. (For example remember the State Party meeting back in September about the delegate selection power grab where Brady falsely claimed information had been posted on the State Party’s website? In fact not a peep had been posted.)


Of course we couldn’t reach everyone and I do feel bad for the good people who threw their $5 away. It’s especially unfortunate because most of those folks likely assumed they were at least competing on a level playing field.


We blew the whistle on people not only being allowed to “vote” multiple times – but in fact being urged to. When a reporter from WBEZ called Pat Brady out on this yesterday, Brady’s response was to try and brush it off as basically “Oh Tom Cross was just incorrect.”


But this is just more dishonesty. I had been receiving reports for several weeks from some of the good GOP County and Township Chairmen around the state who told me Pat Brady’s people were pushing the benefits of multiple voting all along. It was all about trying to get local organizations to go for the “revenue sharing” aspect Brady was pushing to try and drum-up more cash. This straw poll was all about trying to raise the maximum amount of money possible by any means necessary, and nothing more


The good news is only a few enablers went for the scheme and partnered with Brady.


We’ll never know how many people actually voted in the straw poll. It might have been 1,000 people, or it might have been just 500 people or less. It’s anyone’s guess.


But I do know we’ll never have a serious Republican Party in Illinois until we’re once again able to directly elect the members of the Illinois Republican Party’s governing board that’s supposed to be protecting the rank-and-file from these dishonest scams.


Doug Ibendahl is a Chicago Attorney and a former General Counsel of the Illinois Republican Party.


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