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Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul walking in a building

Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul at the Dirksen Federal Building in the Loop, Thursday, June 29, 2023. Raoul’s office filed a lawsuit against Local Government Information Services accusing it of publishing sensitive personal data that could subject voters to identity theft.

Anthony Vazquez

A Lake County judge orders a chain of websites to remove voters’ personal information

The publisher of a chain of Republican-favoring websites derided as “pink slime” has agreed to remove specific street addresses and birthdates for “hundreds of thousands” of Illinois voters after being sued by Democratic Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul.

Both Raoul’s office and Lake Forest-based Local Government Information Services agreed to an order from a Lake County judge that the sensitive information be removed from the company’s nearly three dozen online platforms by 5 p.m. Monday.

The order signed by Lake County Circuit Judge Daniel L. Jasica also bars the company from publishing that material while Raoul’s newly filed lawsuit wends its way through court.

Raoul’s office declined comment, and a lawyer representing LGIS did not respond to a query from WBEZ.

Raoul’s legal move against LGIS accuses the company of publishing sensitive personal data that could subject voters across Illinois to identity theft.

Among those whose personal data has been identified on LGIS’ nearly three dozen online websites are current and former judges, police officers, high-ranking state officials and victims of domestic violence and human trafficking, Raoul’s filing said.

Raoul brought the action on behalf of the State Board of Elections, which alleges that the material LGIS has published involved voter data from 2016 and 2020 that was made available only to political committees in the state for political use.

How the Lake Forest-based company obtained the information is not clear, the attorney general’s filing said.

“What is clear is that defendant’s disclosure of the sensitive voter information, i.e., voters’ dates of birth and street numbers, not only exposes voters to identify theft, but also poses a grave threat to certain classes of individuals, such as domestic violence victims, judges, and law enforcement officers, whose safety will be endangered by having their private information published on the internet,” Raoul’s office noted in its complaint.

LGIS was incorporated in Illinois in 2016 and was at least partly owned then by Dan Proft, a Florida-based political strategist who once ran as a Republican candidate for Illinois governor, the filing said.

Proft is now the subject of a complaint before the state election board that alleges he illegally colluded with 2022 GOP gubernatorial nominee Darren Bailey. Proft chairs the independent expenditure committee, “People Who Play By The Rules PAC,” and is accused of coordinating its activities with Bailey in violation of state election law.

Proft also chaired a different political committee known as Liberty Principles PAC, which was the subject of three complaints in 2016 with the state election board for “coordinating electioneering communications with candidates,” involving content carried in some of LGIS’ publications, the filing noted.

The board determined the complaints “were filed on justifiable grounds” and warned Proft’s political committee that it be identified as the payor of any content in LGIS’ publications and that any future violations could result in penalties, the filing said.

In 2016, Liberty Principles, as political committees are allowed to do, obtained state voter lists from the State Board of Elections that contained personal information about voters, and Raoul’s filing asserts LGIS “or its agents obtained the 2016 voter information from Liberty State PAC.”

LGIS somehow obtained 2020 voter data from a political committee and then merged the two years’ of information into one database that wound up being published on the company’s websites, Raoul alleges.

State election law permits political committees to obtain information about voters but stipulates that it “be used only for bona fide political purposes” and not for “commercial solicitation or other business purposes.” Violation of that provision is a felony.

Proft did not respond to a query from WBEZ. LGIS’s president, Brian Timpone, could not be reached for comment.

Dave McKinney covers Illinois government and politics for WBEZ and was the longtime Springfield bureau chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

This story is part of “The Democracy Solutions Project,” a partnership among WBEZ, the Chicago Sun-Times and the University of Chicago’s Center for Effective Government. Together, we’re examining critical issues facing our democracy in the run-up to the 2024 elections.

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