Sen. Mark Kirk’s (R-IL) campaign recently denied paying people to protest his opponent Rep. Tammy Duckworth at a campaign event last month. But a new Kirk campaign FEC filing indicates that he paid an “urban outreach” consultant who was among the protesters on the same day of the event.
Last month, BNR reported that a protest set up outside a Tammy Duckworth campaign event in Chicago was apparently staged. Some demonstrators said they expected to be paid by the “man who sponsored” the event, some were reportedly recognized as residents of a local homeless shelter, and others were videotaped being fed by a Kirk campaign staffer.
At the time, Kirk campaign manager Kevin Artl said that the campaign “didn’t organize the protesters or pay them.” Artl also said that the staffer at the event, Matthew Custardo, was the only campaign official at the event and there simply as a tracker – even though the Kirk campaign’s regular tracker was also in attendance.
But BNR has learned that according to Kirk’s most recent FEC report, the campaign did pay one of the people standing among the protestors that day. Jeffrey Coleman – who had previously aided Kirk with “urban outreach” – is listed on the FEC filing as having received $1,800 from Kirk’s campaign on March 28 for “field consulting.”
Most of the demonstrators refused to speak with reporters that day (one actually wondered whether Duckworth was a Republican or Democrat) but the Chicago Sun Times reported that Coleman “was one of the few people standing among the protesters who was willing to talk with a reporter.”
BNR asked the Kirk campaign whether Coleman had an official role in the campaign that day, whether he was paid to organize the protest, and whether any of the protesters were paid by Coleman or the Kirk campaign. BNR has not yet received a response to these inquiries.