The President of Golf, Illinois Cares about YOU

If a politician must impress us with his gravitas, then surely a Tea Party (self-anointed) leader must impress us with his dumbitas. And yesterday, John Tillman, the president of Golf, Illinois (I am not kidding) former President and board member of Americans for Limited Government, then President and board member of the Sam Adams Alliance, and now President of his very OWN “think tank” (purchased in 2008 from its founder) the Illinois Policy Institute managed a feat of dumbitas worthy of the legendary Admiral Dumbo McStupidpants himself.

John Tillman, self-anointed spokesman for the “common man”

“We have to transform Illinois from the Land of Lincoln to the land of opportunity,” said John Tillman (right), CEO of the Illinois Policy Institute. “Take President Obama’s home state. Take it back for liberty. Take it back for prosperity. Take it back for opportunity once and for all.”

I pulled Tillman aside after he came off the stage. He and I have sparred on the radio and are friendly adversaries, so I came to the point: What’s this really all about?

“It’s about accountability,” he said. “What these people see is government expanding its role when it can’t even handle the role it already has. They want to reduce the amount of money that government puts into every aspect of life.”

Yet for the most part, taxes have not gone up on them.

“That’s not the point,” Tillman said. “The trend line is that taxes are going to go up to pay for Obamacare. People intuitively get that.” [Emphasis added]

The president of Golf, Illinois speaks for the Common Man?

After all, I’m the president of Golf, a very small village north of Chicago with 453 people, 171 homes and a volunteer government.  We have a police force, a part-time village administrator, and well, that’s about it.


Take a look at the “very small village” with their “volunteer government.”

The humble village of Golf, Illinois – the red “stickpin” lower center
left is Tillman’s house. (there are at least 9  more golf courses
immediately outside of this photo)

And here’s Tillman’s humble cottage in his very small village:

The red “stick-pin” upper center left is Tillman’s street corner

And here’s a little demographic sketch of Tillman’s small village with its volunteer government (I’ve removed the actual address, although anybody could find it in about ten seconds on Google):

Area Demographics for xx Briar Road

96.7% White: All*
1.3% White: Latin or Hispanic*
0% Black or African American*
0.2% American Indian and Alaska Native*
3.7% Asian*
0% Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander*
* alone or in combination
Median Income: $89,249
Source: U.S. Census

(Kinda matches the demographics of the recent polling of Tea Partiers. Especially that 96.7% white part.)

Sort of looks more like a gated community for richie riches than a “small village,” but Tillman speaks for Everyman.

Why just listen to him in a 2006 email interview with the Center for Public Integrity:

John Tillman is the president of Americans for Limited Government, a tax-exempt organization in Chicago. He is also the elected president of Golf, a small village in Cook County, Illinois.

Does Americans for Limited Government plan to donate more money to ballot committees supporting regulatory takings initiatives before the November 7 elections?

[Tillman did not respond.]

Why does ALG support these initiatives?

ALG supports these initiatives because they are commonsense reforms that protect property rights. The 2005 Kelo v. [City of] New London decision by the U.S. Supreme Court demonstrated that there is a real threat to homes, businesses, and houses of worship across the country. The Kelo decision, sadly, also showed that local governments are often focused on eroding property rights rather than shoring them up. These initiatives will restore some balance in the process and give property owners, especially those who may not have the resources to defend themselves, stronger protection and better options should a government decide to unjustly use eminent domain or regulate their property out of existence.

Does the vast majority of ALG’s funding come from Howard Rich, or have others contributed to your organization? If the latter is true, who are some of the major donors? What percentage of ALG’s funds would you estimate Mr. Rich has donated this year?

ALG’s funding comes from thousands of Americans all over the country. Mr. Rich has long been a generous supporter to many causes over the years, and he has worked tirelessly to support efforts to put the voters and taxpayers back in charge on the state level. We are very proud to have his support and greatly appreciate his generosity. However, we are also very proud of the fact that our support is broad and deep. It does a real disservice to the thousands of people all over the country who have donated, both to us and to the local campaigns, to portray the funding as having all come from one person. It’s also simply not accurate to do so.

And, of course, the Center for Public Integrity found out that he was lying about those “thousands of donors,” and the “broad and deep” support:

Americans for Limited Government, the tax-exempt organization that bankrolled a series of controversial ballot initiatives this year [2006], raised 99 percent of its $5.4 million in total contributions in 2005 from just three donors, the Center for Public Integrity has learned.

The number of ALG’s major donors in 2005, but not their identities, was disclosed in financial statements obtained by the Center.

New York political activist Howard Rich, the organization’s high-profile chairman, did not respond to the Center’s requests for information about ALG’s financial affairs, including a question about how much of his own money, if any, he has given to the group. Rich has repeatedly declined to disclose the identities of donors to ALG and eight other tax-exempt organizations that share common management.

Rich was recently described by The Wall Street Journal as “a publicity-shy, libertarian-leaning businessman who has become the go-to man for supporters of conservative ballot initiatives.”

The reliance of Americans for Limited Government on such a small number of big donors is at sharp variance with how the organization bills itself to journalists and to the public.

“Americans for Limited Government is funded by thousands of individuals from across the country,” the organization’s Web site says. “Grassroots volunteers and donors make up the heart and soul of our organization.”

It’s a theme that Rich and his lieutenants have sounded again and again.

Months before the November elections, for example, Rich told a reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle that his network of organizations — chief among them Americans for Limited Government — is funded by thousands of individual donors.

And in an October 24 e-mail to the Center, John Tillman, ALG’s president, said that the organization’s “funding comes from thousands of Americans all over the country.” Tillman went on to say that “we are also proud of the fact that our support is broad and deep.”

The Center previously reported that Americans for Limited Government was apparently forced last month to move out of Illinois, its longtime base of operations, because it could not comply with the state’s charity laws. Just after the November 7 elections the organization changed the address listed on its Web site to the Virginia residence of one of its officers.

And here’s the BIG picture, just to put this in context:

The red “stick-pin” lower left center is Tillman’s ‘small village’
a golf course surrounded by at least 9 other golf courses.

What is scary is the conclusion of last week’s Chicago Tribune article, that we began with, echoed throughout the news media’s venerable punditocracy:

Tillman is a smart guy — his organization’s Web site brims with specific proposals and prescriptions — but this sounds to me like an endorsement of populist ignorance, of unfocused anger and simple thinking about complex problems. Something to be feared rather than respected, challenged rather than cheered.

But my mind’s not closed. I walked away from the rally still listening, still wondering: What is it, exactly, that tea party activists want?


The long-standing and insidious ties between the so-called “Tea Party” movement are well documented, but I urge you to go and read  (If you haven ‘t already, see “Required Reading for Tomorrow’s Post“) A Time For Tea: A Tea Party Time Line, by Alex Brant-Zawadzki, Tea Party Correspondent for HuffPost Citizen Reporting, Posted: April 15, 2010 12:03 PM.

Notice how deeply intertwined with all this tea party promotion that David Koch’s old buddies and current political associates are in all of this. Alex forgets to mention that Eric O’Keefe, currently the Sam Adams Alliance honcho, has worked closely with the Cato Foundation with its Chairman, David Koch, as well as on the Board of Directors of Charles Koch’s (Charles is the older brother) original foundation, the “Institute for Humane Studies” (which Alex DOES mention). Howie Rich serves on Cato’s Board as well. And, in at least 1999 and 2000 so did News Corp’s Rupert Murdoch.

from the Cato Institute’s 1999 tax return

See Greenpeace‘s Koch Industries: Secretly Funding the Climate Denial Machine30 March, 2010 and my Russian ‘Think Tank’ ties to Cato even MORE Suspicious, 19 December 2009. As a matter of fact, “Andre Illiarnov” (sic) below is Andre Illarionov, head of the “Think Tank” in question.

from the Cato Institute’s 2007 tax return

And then see Crooks and Liars‘ Koch Industries denies funding tea parties, but official filings say otherwise By karoli Sunday Apr 18, 2010 10:00am

I know, this seems to be getting ever more and more complicated, doesn’t it?

It really isn’t.

It’s just the same old boys’ club that’s stuck together since at least, say, 1980. They keep changing the names and the offices, the issues and the addresses, but it is, in fact, a small core of “libertarians” attached to Charles and David Koch. On the one side, you have the FreedomWorks and Americans for Prosperity groups, and on the other, you have the old “Crane Machine” of political operatives from the 1980 Ed Clark for President campaign, where David Koch literally BOUGHT his way into the Vice Presidential nominee slot on the ticket, by offering to underwrite the campaign.

From Americans for Limited Government’s 2005 990
Tax return, with John Tillman,  President and
only paid officer

Take a look at those names, because at least four of them are named in the Libertarian Forum in 1980 and 1982 examples, although there are many, many more references at The Von Mises Insitute’s archive.

The officer noted in CPI’s report on ALG taking it on the lam out of Illinois? The “organization changed the address listed on its Web site to the Virginia residence of one of its officers,” that officer being William Wilson, now “Bill Wilson,” the new “President” of ALG, who regularly uses their self-designed echo machine to “blast” congress or the president, or whomever.

This group has been thick as thieves for many, many years now. See if this sounds familiar [emphasis added]:

David F. Nolan in the Libertarian Forum, VOL. XIII, NUMBERS 5-6 SEPTEMBER-DECEMBER, 1980 US-1SSN0M7-1517

CLARK FOR PRESIDENT — A Campaign Critique

[page 15]

In sum, our pre-convention fears proved all too accurate. The campaign did become a virtual “one-man show”, and principles were abandoned. In addition to the Big Lies noted immediately above and the waffling on principle documented earlier, the campaign began, increasingly, to indulge in what might be called Nasty Little Lies as well. Some examples:

*In late December of 1979, Ballot Drive Co-Ordinator Howie Rich told Colorado LP Chairman John Mason that it was absolutely imperative that Colorado complete its ballot drive by December 31, because “Colorado will be the 30th state, and it’s really important that we make it in 30 by the end of the year”. The same day he said this to Mason, he told Paul Grant – then a National Committee member – that the drive had been completed in only 21 states!

*As previously noted, Clark and Crane regularly told the news media that “most of our funding is coming from small contributors”, when in fact David Koch was  providing about two thirds of the money.

Sound familiar?

And this, by Murray Rothbard*, in the Libertarian Forum,  February 1982, the Rosetta Stone of Koch/CATO/Howie Rich studies (I have included only the most prominent names STILL ACTIVE today, some 28 years after this was written – with current whereabouts in green italics):

[* Note, while Rothbard’s bad feelings are noted, simply notice that these people are associated as early as 1982, and that attempting to smear and assassinate Murray Rothbard’s character as a means of refuting his accusations is as pointless as it is graceless.]

The Crane Machine Revealed (page 2-3)*

[* Note, virtually all of these named stood up and walked out of the National Libertarian Party Convention in 1983, en masse. They have continued their associations and beliefs, seemingly, but are not connected with the LP they walked out on. Not exactly connected, that is.]

…  It is the essence of faithful Crane Machiners (those who would, in the immortal words of Chuck Colson, “walk over their grandmothers” if Crane gave the order) that they are slotted back and forth as they are needed in various Crane institutions, and in and out of various LP campaigns. Often they are “warehoused” for periods of time in one of these institutions. In short, the Crane Machine operates like a mini-multinational corporation, moving people in, out, and around. Also: some of the lesser Machiners are listed as “present whereabouts unknown”. I hasten to add that that means unknown to me, not that they have gone underground, although that would be a consummation devoutly to be wished. If we had the resources of Time magazine, we could track them down, and also print front and profile mug shots of all the Craniacs, but this article will have to do until a fuller profile comes along.

I. Edward H. Crane III The Big Boss: capo di tutti capi. Main power base: Head of the Cato Institute, which moved from San Franciso to Washington, D.C. early in the Reagan Administration to be close to the Corridors of Power. Also, Boss of: Libertarian Review Foundation, and its publications Inquiry and Update; National Taxpayers Legal Fund; and the Crane Machine in the Libertarian Party. Formerly, boss of Students for a Libertarian Society, and formerly, National Chairman of the LP. Managed the LP presidential campaigns in 1976 and 1980.

2010: Still head of the Cato Institute, still in Washington, D.C., still on the boards of Howie Rich’s various electoral enterprises, as Rich is still on HIS board. Crane ran several unsuccessful national campaigns for the Libertarian Party before walking out in a huff at the 1983 National Convention in Manhattan.

II.  The Top Craniacs (In no particular order of rank)

Christopher (“Chris”) Hocker (Crane hireling; publisher of Inquiry, editor of Update. Recently brought in as editor of the latter to tone down the smearsheet. Former National Director of the LP, now NatCom member, head of Draft Ron Paul Committee.)

2010: Whereabouts unknown. But the Ron Paul strain was already within the party in 1982. Ron Paul was the 1988 presidential nominee of the Libertarian Party.

Howard (“Howie”) Rich (New York businessman. Top Craniac politico. Ran the disastrous Guida campaign for national chair in 1981, the equally disastrous Randolph campaign in 1982, and the likewise disastrous Northrup for Governor campaign in New York in 1982. Craniac straw boss on LP NatCom.)

2010: Currently runs Americans for Limited Government, US Term Limits, LEAD Foundation, various others, and the Republican Party of the State of South Carolina from his new Pennsylvania address, having left his life-long home of New York City to protest the taxes.

Andrea Millen Rich (Wife of Howie. Proprietor of Laissezfaire Bookstore in New York, which has become a social center for New York Machiners. Banned the Libertarian Forum from the bookstore for being critical of the Crane Machine. NatCom member.)

2010: After years as the salon-keeper of the library of legalistic libertarian libations (of the mind), Andrea Millen Rich sold Lassaiz Faire Books in 2005 and now devotes her attentions to her very own foundation , The Center for Independent Thought.

Leslie Graves (alias Leslie Graves Key). Crane hireling. Former editor, now reporter, for Update. NatCom member. Boss of the Wisconsin LP, based in Madison, now rumored to be suffering a revolt from the long-downtrodden Milwaukee forces.

2010: Graves is married to Eric O’Keefe and put together and runs Ballotpedia before folding it and Judgepedia and WikiFOIA into her ‘nonprofit’ Lucy Burns Foundation. She also ran a petition campaign in Nebraska for a tidy six figures in 2006.

III  Quasi-Independent

Dick Randolph (A special category for the straw boss of the Alaska LP. Formerly State Rep, ran disastrous campaign for Governor in 1982. Turned his entire campaign over to the Crane Machine. One has the feeling, however, that Dick could someday leave the Machine. Is rumored to be suffering from revolt within Alaska LP.)

From the Anchorage (AK) Press (emphasis added):

Wednesday, February 17, 2010 5:19 PM AKST

Even back in 2008, the genesis of the Anti-Corruption Act was shadowy. A former state representative, Dick Randolph, told the Anchorage Daily News he’d been asked to head the campaign by New York billionaire Howie Rich, a libertarian known for funding pro-term-limits and “taxpayer bill of rights” initiatives in states around the country (Randolph is traveling out of state and couldn’t be reached for comment). Scott Kohlhaas, the chair of the state Libertarian Party, was involved in the signature gathering (he wrote in an email this week that he hasn’t been associated with the Anti-Corruption Act since the ballot drive), and he told the Daily News in January 2008 that Rich wrote him an email “telling me not to ‘eff’ this up.” (An email query to Rich went unanswered.)

Rich’s involvement in the current campaign is unknown…

IV Lesser Craniacs

Eric O’Keefe (The Martyr. Former National Director of the LP; when ousted, went to Alaska to help Guida run the [1982 Dick] Randolph fiasco. Present whereabouts unknown.)

2010: O’Keefe was fired from his position as national LP director in 1983 for what seems to have been gross malfeasance. Is credited for writing the 1994 “Term Limits” initiatives that were part of the “Contract with America.” O’Keefe is Chairman and CEO of the Sam Adams Alliance, as well as on the BOD of the Institute for Humane Studies as of 2007 (the latest tax return available), run by Charles G. Koch, David’s older brother and partner in Koch Industries. O’Keefe has ALSO served on the BOD of Americans for Limited Government, Americans for Limited Terms, Cato Institute, Center for Competitive Politics, Citizens in Charge, Club for Growth Wisconsin (Board of Directors), Institute for Humane Studies (Board of Directors), Legislation Education Action Drive (Board of Directors) ,Parents in Charge Foundation President, Sam Adams Alliance Chairman and CEO, US Term Limits Founding Board of Directors.

David Boaz (Crane hireling. Vice-president, Cato Institute. Research director, LP Presidential campaign, 1980).

2010: Boaz still works for Ed Crane at Cato as “Executive V.P.” and pulled down $250K in 2007. He frequently writes for Howie Rich’s “Liberty Action Report” put out by ALG.

from the 2007 Cato tax return

VI Peripheral Craniacs, Some Now Inactive

These are mainly Craniacs who are-generally for career reasons-at present inactive in the Machine, but might be brought back by the Boss at any time.

Robert Costello (formerly in California, now working for free-market investment letter in Chicago.)

2010: Funny you should mention Costello:

Why there he is on the board of directors of Americans for Limited Government in 2006! (And 2005 and 2004). And look who their highest paid employee was in 2006. John Tillman.

from the 2006 tax return

Along with Heather Wilhelm, who ALSO made the difficult transition from ALG to the Sam Adams Alliance* in 2006  … and NOW works for the Illinois Policy Institute, as well, under its leader, John Tillman.

[* Note, Link is the pre-scrubbed version of the current sanitized bio.]

from the 2006 Sam Adams Alliance tax return

But don’t worry. They didn’t have to move far. In 2oo5, remember, they were downtown in Chicago:

from the Americans for Limited Government 2005 tax return

And when ALG “moved” to Virginia in late 2006, Sam Adams Alliance took over the empty office space:

from the SAA 2006 tax return

But, really, there was a LOT of  extra office space, one supposes, as THESE Howie Rich entities ALSO moved to Virginia, magically, having been caught in violation of Illinois’ charitable foundations laws.

LEAD 2005 tax return

USTL 2005 tax return

from the SSC 2005 tax return

And, in case you had lost track, here is the 2005 SSC Board of Directors.

Yeah. THAT Ken Blackwell: 2004 Ohio Republican Secretary of State and
2008 GOP gubernatorial candidate in Ohio, finalist for RNC chair in 2009.
And there’s Ed Crane and Howie Rich and Robert Costello, just like in 1982.

But it must have been difficult for all those organizations to move to 20 N. Wacker drive, Suite 3330, Chicago, Illinois 60606. An address, BTW, that is close to Robert Costello and John Tillman, the only Chicagoans on the boards of ALG, SAA, etc. It is ALSO within easy walking distance to the Illinois Policy Institute at 190 S Lasalle St, Suite 2130, Chicago, Illinois 60603 . A convenient 0.4 miles:

From the Sam Adams Alliance (A) to the Illinois Policy Institute (B) = 0.4 miles

The reason is that all of them moved the previous year, in 2004, from 240 Waukegan in Glenview, Illinois.

Glenview, Illinois was a popular spot for “Craniac” foundations in 2004

Here’s 240 Waukegan Road from Google Maps

240 Waukegan Road in Glenview, Illinois

And they shared a little more than just office space:

from the 2005 return, loans going
everywhichaway  but never leaving the office

Glenview. Glenview. Why does that sound familiar?

Oh, I remember: I wrote a long, exhaustively documented piece on how ALG openly worked door to door this year to “take out” a moderate Glenview Republican state representative, in violation of its 501(c)4 status,  with the “Tea Party” candidate winning the Republican primary, in  Posted: 17 FEBRUARY 2010…8:20 PM.

It seemed kind of strange to me that Americans for Limited Government — which had moved “uptown” in 2005 and then fled Illinois entirely in 2006 — would be so interested in a local congressional race in the Chicago suburbs.

But then I noticed where that 240 Waukegan Road address in Glenview was and where John Tillman’s Briar Road address was in that “small village” of Golf, Illinois, where he serves as ‘voluntary president’:

Red stickpin to Yellow stickpin = 3.4 miles. Click for larger (1 meg) file

A mere 3.4 miles across Glenview from the Glenview Country Club, onto which is attached, like a jewel-encrusted barnacle, the small village of Golf, Illinois. Google Maps suggests this route:

  1. Head northwest on Overlook Dr toward Orchard Ln 0.6 mi
  2. Turn right at IL-43 N/N Waukegan Rd 2.7 mi
  3. Make a U-turn at Main St Destination will be on the right 141 ft

And, of course, 240 Waukegan is located
three blocks from a  Glenview golf course

So, we will return to “We have to transform Illinois from the Land of Lincoln to the land of opportunity,” said John Tillman, tomorrow.

For now, let’s just contemplate the President of that “small village” of Golf, Illinois, and how concerned he must be for the plight of the ‘common man,’ as he styles himself a leader of the Tea Party movement.

Now, go and read Alex Brant-Zawadski’s timeline of the Tea Party movement — if only just the first two pages leading up to February 19th, 2009 — and it’ll scare hell out of you.

It was a 2006 letter sent to me from “US TERM LIMITS” at 240 Waukegan Road, in Glenview, Illinois that originally got me wondering just why I was receiving political campaign mail from Chicago for an Oregon election.

Now I guess I know. And, uh, please remember to replace your divots. Thanks.

John Tillman,
Official IPI photo


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About Hart Williams

Mr. Williams grew up in Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas and New Mexico. He lived in Hollywood, California for many years. He has been published in The Washington Post, The Kansas City Star, The Santa Fe Sun, The Los Angeles Free Press, Oui Magazine, New West, and many, many more. A published novelist and a filmed screenwriter, Mr. Williams eschews the decadence of Hollywood for the simple, wholesome goodness of the plain, honest people of the land. He enjoys Luis Buñuel documentaries immensely.
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