Dear Illinois Review,
Many of your readers have commented on Carol Marin’s Chicago Sun-Times column today. The Proft for Governor Campaign feels your readers, and the public at large, deserve a full explanation of any candidate’s activities in the public sector. We are not confident you will get an honest evaluation of the facts from the Sun-Times or Ms. Marin.
As you can tell from her use of such loaded terms as “henchmen” and “acid-tongued” in her column today, and her previous use of insults against public officials based on weight and other physical characteristics, she does not come to this issue objectively.
While there have been lively exchanges between Carol and Dan in the past, and as much as we may enjoy trading barbs with Ms. Marin, Dan’s candidacy demands a full explanation of the situation and we welcome the opportunity to do so.
And the facts are these:
Dan Proft is a part owner of a public relations firm, Urquhart Media, which does work on behalf of many clients, including municipalities and other public bodies. All such contracts are in the public domain and subject to review by publicly-elected officials. One of these clients has been the Town of Cicero. For the town, the firm was responsible for public-relation activities including, but not limited to, printing a monthly newsletter; creating and maintaining electronic communications; representing the town with the press; representing the town before other public entities; and working with social services providers.
These activities necessitated the hiring of up-to seven employees, who perform duties related to these activities. The work also necessitated hiring web-developers, graphic designers, videographers, writers, delivery men, printers, etc. at ZERO mark-up to the town. All of these sub-contractors and employees were paid out of the gross billings paid to the firm.
Urquhart Media was paid to fill a necessary role on behalf of the people of Cicero; it performed it well and for good value. If Cicero had not hired a PR firm, surely Ms. Marin and others now would be criticizing “Fortress Cicero.” As it is, they imply that a town that has cut taxes is squandering tax-payer money.
Furthermore, this relationship began in 2005 and is governed by a contract that was negotiated with elected officials and ratified by the Town Council. It can be canceled at any time with 30-days notice. The public, with full knowledge of this relationship, recently re-elected the incumbents with 60% of the vote.
Ms. Marin has used the word “siphon” and other pejoratives to describe this relationship. She ignores the volume of work produced and disregards the payments made by Urquhart to sub-contractors and instead leaves the intentional impression that Dan is “siphoning” money from the town into his own pocket. It is a dishonest characterization.
Ms. Marin and others are also terribly fond of the word “no-bid” to describe the nature of the contract between Urquhart and the Town of Cicero. Again, the contractual relationship between the parties was ratified in public and is available for inspection. There is nothing disreputable or even unusual about it, regardless of the impression Ms. Marin likes to create. We can only wonder why, if this is indeed evidence of nefarious activity, Ms. Marin hasn’t written her expose on President Obama’s “no-bid” contract with his senior advisor David Axelrod. After all, didn't Axelrod help elect Mr. Obama, only to be given an exclusive “no-bid” contract as the new administration’s PR guy?
If Ms. Marin still fails to see the point, we’ll put it straight: There is a very legitimate reason why not all contracts between government and the private sector are given to the lowest bidder: your opponents would bid the lowest. Karl Rove would have done the PR job for President Obama for free – and so would Dan Proft. Ms. Marin knows this is a typical arrangement. But she also knows that most people are too busy with their lives to understand the difference, so she is free to create a false impression. The mere mention of “no-bid” in connection with Urquhart and the Town of Cicero is a canard invented for the sole purpose of imputing dubious activity where none exists.
Ms. Marin is an intelligent and experienced reporter. She knows better. She knows that company revenues are not the same as company profits; she knows that municipalities enter into contracts for expert services all the time, in every municipality in every community across the country, starting with the federal government.
She also knows that Dan Proft offered in the past to sit down with her and answer any question about Urquhart’s work with Cicero that she might have in a forthright and methodical manner, as he has done with the Chicago Tribune, Jeff Berkowitz, Univision TV and anyone else who asks. We have made the same offer to local Fox affiliate reporter Anne Kavanagh, who, to her credit, has accepted our offer. As you may have seen on television, Ms. Kavanagh is no pushover, but Dan has nothing to hide.
So why does Carol Marin continue to attack Dan Proft? Why does she continually impugn Dan Proft’s contractual relationships for public relations, but she fails to look into, say, Marilyn Katz’ MK Communication’s multi-million dollar contracts with the City of Chicago? Why does Ms. Marin congratulate herself as a defender of the people of Cicero for doggedly unearthing documents that anyone can access at a town meeting, while she completely ignores the prominent Democrats who fed at the trough with bond-sale commissions in the waning days of the Maltese-Gonzalez regime? Why doesn’t she criticize House Speaker Michael Madigan, whose law firm makes millions of dollars from property-tax appeals, while he sits at the head of a party that imposes those taxes in the first place?
Because Carol Marin has one set of standards for those who share her liberal Democrat views and another for conservatives likes Dan Proft. But you want to know the real reason she targets Dan?
She knows he can win.
Dan Proft for Governor Campaign