Gov. JB Pritzker plans to join candidate interview after originally withdrawing over political mailers

Pritzker said Thursday he was withdrawing due to controversy surrounding one newspaper involved in interview

Election 2024
Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker speaks at a press conference regarding the I-55 interchange and Rt. 59 part of the Rebuild Illinois project. Sept. 9, 2022, in Shorewood.

Democratic Gov. JB Pritzker said Friday that he will participate in a candidate interview scheduled for next week after originally announcing Thursday that he intended to pull out due to controversy surrounding one of the newspapers involved.

Originally, Pritzker had withdrawn from the interview scheduled for Sept. 30 after learning Paddock Publications Inc., the parent company of the Daily Herald, was printing a series of controversial publications that were being mailed to residents as newspapers.

Paddock or the Daily Herald had nothing to do with the content.

Those mailers are owned and operated by Local Government Information Services, which runs almost three dozen publications that publish identical content containing politically charged messaging.

Because the Daily Herald was involved in the upcoming interview, which is hosted by the Illinois Associated Press Media Editors, Pritzker said he would not participate until the nature of the agreement between Paddock and LGIS was clarified.

“The governor will not be participating in any candidate forums hosted by the Daily Herald until Paddock publicly discloses exactly what arrangements were made with ... Local Government Information Service,” Pritzker’s campaign said Thursday.

With the news that Pritzker will participate, IAPME President Dennis Anderson said Friday that he will lead the forum’s panel along with other journalists in the association, including the Daily Herald.

“IAPME is pleased both Gov. JB Pritzker and state Sen. Darren Bailey have confirmed their participation in the Sept. 30 candidate forum,” Anderson said Friday. “This benefits voters throughout Illinois who can now hear both candidates’ views on issues important to Illinois.”

Anderson also is the vice president of news and content development for Shaw Media, which owns the Northwest Herald.

Daily Herald Vice President/Executive Editor Jim Baumann added: “Voters should be pleased that the governor has come around on this. Any opportunity for journalists around the state to be able to talk to both candidates at the same time will be a benefit to the people in the communities those news operations serve.”

LGIS has drawn the ire of many, including Pritzker, due to the content found in its mailers, which often contain conservative talking points and political messaging.

Company records filed with the Secretary of State lists Republican insider Brian Timpone as its president. Dan Proft, a radio talk show host and former GOP gubernatorial candidate, is listed as a principal of LGIS’ board of directors as of 2019, records show. His current affiliation with the company is unclear.

While the Daily Herald was involved in the scheduled interview with Pritzker and Bailey, the event itself was being put on by IAPME, which has several member newspapers across the state, including the Daily Herald.

Pritzker’s decision to withdraw Thursday was met with requests from officials with IAPME hoping Pritzker would change his mind.

“This is an important election for the future of Illinois, and it’s vital that voters have a chance to hear from candidates directly,” Anderson said Thursday.

In response to Pritzker’s decision, Paddock announced Thursday on the Daily Herald’s website that it planned to stop printing the publications. Pritzker said later that night that he was “reconsidering” his participation as a result.

“It was a business decision to take on the job,” according to Paddock’s statement. “The perception among some has become that the Daily Herald is the publisher of these publications. We are not. The company does not endorse the content of any of the print jobs it does for vendors, including many newspapers. It neither embraces nor condemns them. It merely prints them.”

Proft in response criticized Pritzker on Thursday for withdrawing and compared him with a king that aims to “make all media subservient to his government.” He added in a later statement Thursday that LGIS’s publications will be distributed “even if we have to return to the Gutenberg press.”