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Bernard Schoenburg

STATEHOUSE SPOTLIGHT: Rauner taps new state of Illinois lobbyist in D.C.

Pfister linked with tea party

Pfister linked with tea party

Gov. Bruce Rauner has named Springfield native Sam Pfister, 31, as his new director of federal affairs in Washington, D.C.

According to a news release, Pfister "will be working closely with Congress and the Executive Branch to ensure Illinois' interests are being represented. He will also work with other governors' offices to achieve shared goals."

U.S. Rep. John Shimkus, R-Collinsville, is quoted as saying Pfister's "experience and relationships on Capitol Hill, including as an intern in my office, will be a great benefit to Illinois as he takes a lead role in coordinating with state and federal policymakers on issues ranging from health care to disaster assistance to energy and environmental regulations."

And U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, said that as someone who grew up in central Illinois and worked for former U.S. Rep. Tim Johnson, R-Urbana, "Sam understands what it takes to represent downstate Illinois in Washington, and I'm confident he will do a great job."

Pfister, who became Johnson's top policy adviser, spent the past 4 years as associate director of state outreach for the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia.

"Mercatus" is the Latin word for "market," and the center's website calls it "the world's premier university source for market-oriented ideas." Businessman Charles Koch "has poured millions into Mercatus and other programs at the university," according to a 2014 Daniel Schulman book, "Sons of Wichita: How the Koch Brothers Became America's Most Powerful and Private Dynasty." Koch is also on the Mercatus board.

Back in 2009, when Pfister, a graduate of Western Illinois University, spoke at an April 15 (tax day) tea party rally outside the Statehouse, he didn't use their names but let it be known he didn't like what former GOP President George W. Bush or then-Democratic President Barack Obama, as well as Congress, had been doing concerning debt.

"The battle cry for the revolution was no taxation without representation," he said then. "Well, now we have gross taxation with misrepresentation. ... We are given no choice between big government and bigger government. ... The more they spend now, the more they will tax later. That means that my generation will have less political freedom, less economic freedom, more rules to follow, more regulation to abide by, and more foreign powers to answer to."

He also called people who had increased the national debt "decrepit men that call themselves our leaders," and "we should vote them out of office immediately."

Oh, and there was talk back then of some tea party activists wanting to allow states to secede from the union. Then-Texas Gov. Rick Perry, now the secretary of the Department of Energy, said that day in Austin that while he wasn't for secession, "if Washington continues to thumb their noses at the American people, who knows what may come of that."

At the Springfield rally, Pfister disputed that secession had anything do with the tea party tax day protests, and he noted that it was also the anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's death.

"For those of you in the puppet media, those taking orders from Washington and L.A. and New York and Chicago, you should be ashamed of yourselves," because of the secession talk, he said.

Election records show Pfister is registered to vote in Sangamon County, but the last primary he voted in here was in 2012 and the last general election in which he cast a ballot here was in 2014.

Pfister is son of Springfield area Realtor Fritz Pfister, who has long had a real estate radio program and for a time was a weekday talk-show host. The elder Pfister interviewed candidate Rauner on the radio in September 2013 when Rauner said an increase in the minimum wage would be "a terrible idea" because it would "devastate job opportunities for young people and lower-income folks. ..." Rauner later said he'd support an increase in concert with pro-business legislation.

Rauner told the elder Pfister in another interview, in June 2014, that he wanted the state income tax rate to fall to 3 percent, which hasn't happened.

Sam Pfister is being paid $75,000 a year. He replaced Kathleen Lydon, a D.C. veteran who recently left her job and was making $130,000.

"Sam is excited to be a part of the governor's administration and to promote the governor's agenda to make Illinois better for all," said Rauner spokeswoman Laurel Patrick.

Policy background

Also recently named by Rauner was former state Rep. Darlene Senger, R-Naperville, as deputy chief of staff for legislative affairs. She is being paid $120,000 a year, up from the $115,000 she was making as chief financial officer for the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission.

She lost a race for Congress in 2014 to U.S. Rep. Bill Foster, D-Naperville, and then worked for a time for the Illinois Policy Institute – which lately has become the former address for a number of high-level Rauner aides, including the governor's new chief of staff, Kristina Rasmussen, who is former president of the institute.

STATEHOUSE SPOTLIGHT: Rauner taps new state of Illinois lobbyist in D.C. OPINION: Bernard Schoenburg: Rauner names Sam Pfister to federal affairs job in D.C.1bf03f96-cc8d-4aca-a6f8-44af64e47a0a/image-pv_web.jpgshaw-push-component-1