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Londrigan Responds to "Fake Reporter" Incident

Sam Dunklau
NPR Illinois 91.9 FM
Republican Congressman Rodney Davis, who represents Illinois 13th Congressional District, spars with Democratic challenger Betsy Dirksen Londrigan at a debate during the 2018 election

A self-described unpaid volunteer for Illinois Congressman Rodney Davis’ campaign crashed a news call being held by a Democrat running for Congress in 2020. Betsy Dirksen Londrigan’s campaign called the incident “underhanded.”

Londrigan challenged Davis for his 13th Congressional district seat in 2018, but was narrowly defeated. She was discussing her 2020 campaign with reporters via phone when a Davis volunteer, posing as a student reporter, asked her pointed questions about her funding sources--and even called her husband's role into question.

The caller, identified by WCIA TV as Nick Klitzing, asked the Democrat about her pledge to avoid taking PAC money while at the same time accepting funding from the national Democratic Congressional Committee, which takes PAC contributions. Klitzing suggested Londrigan's husband, a corporate lobbyist, could "funnel money" to the Congressional Committee from which she benefits.

Londrigan says the stunt was in poor form.

"Congressman Davis likes to go on television and talk about civility in politics, all the while his campaign is again engaging in an ongoing series of dishonest distractions," she said.

Klitzing formerly worked on Governor Bruce Rauner’s campaign and served as the state Republican Party Director for a time. According to WCIA TV, Klitzing says he had received orders from higher-up campaign staffers.

Davis campaign personnel have crashed Londrigan events before.

"Congressman Davis’ field director showed up at one of my events drunk, and ended up getting arrested for assaulting people," Londrigan said, recounting an incident from 2018. "It’s not the first time that somebody within the Davis campaign has behaved in this manner."

So far, the Davis campaign hasn’t responded to a request for comment. It’s unclear if the Republican congressman himself had prior knowledge of the incident.

Londrigan, meanwhile, says how the national Democratic committee raises money is out of her control.

“Democrats want to elect Democrats, and I don’t think there’s any secret or shock there," she said.

When asked if her campaign is revisiting how it screens reporters for news conferences, Londrigan laughed and said it would be a “good idea.”

Sam is a Public Affairs Reporting intern for spring 2018, working out the NPR Illinois Statehouse bureau.
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