The state Republican Party has apologized to a Sycamore-based group for running a photo of its members without their consent in a campaign mailer touting the pro-life credentials of U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger.
Recently, the party circulated a flier that included a picture of the smiling congressman posing for a photo with representatives of the Volunteer Action Center in 2016. The visit was arranged to better acquaint Kinzinger, now seeking re-election, with the group's services in the 16th Congressional District, said Ellen Rogers, the center's executive director, in a letter to media.
Because the center is nonpartisan, Rogers said, the photo in the campaign literature seems a "betrayal of the expectations of those who support and fund us."
"At no time during the visit did representatives of VAC have any expectation of being portrayed as endorsing Mr. Kinzinger's candidacy or positions, nor did we (or any of our employees pictured) give permission for the photo to be used in campaign literature," Rogers said.
Under the federal tax code, the Voluntary Action Center is designated as the type of nonprofit organization barred from becoming involved in partisan politics. According to its tax form, it helps with basic transportation and nutrition needs in a number of counties, including La Salle.
In a letter, Drew Collins, executive director of the Illinois Republican Party, said his organization was "deeply sorry" for running the photo, saying the party did not intend to imply the center endorsed Kinzinger.
"The mailer was created by a third-party vendor, who we thought obtained the proper permission and consent to use the photo and was distributed under our organization's name with our approval," Collins said.
In the mailer, the Republican Party noted Kinzinger received a 100 percent score from National Right to Life. The flier said Kinzinger has "consistently fought for our conservative values" and "will never back down on pro-life issues."
Kinzinger's opponent, James Marter, of Oswego, has questioned Kinzinger's pro-life credentials. Marter said Kinzinger has voted for budget bills that include money for Planned Parenthood, which includes abortions among its services.
Marter, who has been endorsed by the conservative Illinois Family Action, noted how other pro-life groups are backing Kinzinger.
"I don't know how they do it," he said in a statement. "They are giving him a pass for voting for Planned Parenthood funding."