Fanning the Flames: The Freedom Project Blog


Gubernatorial Gambit

By Shawn Healy
This coming June, former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich's criminal trial resumes, and it is likely to lead him to a place that two of his immediate predecessors have already frequented: prison. During the intervening months, both parties will hold primaries to select his successor, hoping for an alternative fate regardless of the victor. Believe it or not, the state gubernatorial primary is a little more than three months away. Although the inter-party battles have largely stayed under-the-radar to date, they will undoubtedly heat up as the mercury outside dives.

Case in point was last Wednesday's Republican Gubernatorial Candidate Forum at the Union League Club. Five GOP contenders were on hand for an occassionally testy "conversation" that lasted a little more than an hour: Adam Andrzejewski, Bill Brady, Kirk Dillard, Dan Proft, and Bob Schillerstrom. Chris Robling of the Union League Club served capably as moderator.

Andrzewski, former owner of a family publishing business and founder of a good government organization, ForTheGoodOfIllinois, celebrated his lack of Springfield experience parallel to the not-of-Washington jingle so typical of national politics. A self-styled "real Republican reformer," Andrzewski alluded to the work of Bobby Jindal in Louisiana, and pledged similar efforts to tackle political corruption in Illinois through fiscal transparency.

Brady, a member of the Illinois General Assembly since 1993, promised to bring back business leadership to Springfield. He owns and operates Brady Homes. Brady would roll back the tax and fee increases imposed by Blagojevich, and offer tax incentives to bring back jobs to Illinois. In the realm of reform, he also favors term limits, campaign contribution limits, and computerized redistricting.

Dillard, a former judge and Chief of Staff to popular Governor Jim Edgar, is a sitting state senator and thus boasts a resume with experience in all three branches of state government. He acknowledged that Illinois is a state in crisis, citing its 48th place ranking in economic development and multibillion dollar budget deficit. Dillard is wont to celebrate his political experience, offering a laundy list of legislative accomplishments including ethics reform and truth-in-sentencing guidelines. He pledged to close his campaign fund upon election, and also to make Illinois a "destination economy."

Dan Proft, a PR professional and political commentator, surfaced as the anti-Dillard. He said that this race is not about one's resume, but instead the will to take the fight to the Chicago Democrats who control the levers of political power statewide. Proft promises a "clear, contrast reform vision," including fundamental reforms of the state pension plan, K-12 funding (statewide school choice), and Medicaid. He sees the state in "cardiac arrest," and returned to his slogan that the "system isn't broken; it's fixed." Proft pledged to form nontraditional coalitions around single issues, doing an end-around the tired ways of Springfield.

Schillerstrom, chair of the DuPage County Board, also clung to the experience mantle. He holds great hope for the state, yet recognizes that its government has regularly failed the people and their institutions. Schillerstrom said that we need to look no further than the Springfield culture, where its elected inhabitants spend more than they take in. He pointed to his eleven years of executive expertise where he ran a government larger than six states, paying bills on time, balancing the budget, and seeking efficiencies in governmental operations.

In a mostly civil exchange, only a couple of the barbs flung found traction. They were thrown by the two darkhorses, Andrzejewski and Proft, the former critical of Brady's tax plan, which he claimed offered benefits only at the margin, and the latter's rhetorical question to Dillard about the effectiveness of the ethics law he sponsored ("How is that working?").

When asked to name their role models, the candidates paraded the usual Lincoln and Reagan responses, but Proft claimed John Paul II, and Andrejewski Casmir Pulaski. All of the candidates save Schillerstrom articulated pro-life abortion positions, and Dillard offered a qualifier in favor of stem cell research.

Notably missing from the affair were former state party chairman Andy McKenna, who will officially announce his candidacy on Tuesday, and former attorney general and 2002 gubernatorial nominee Jim Ryan, who remains in the exploratory phase of his campaign. However, the five candidates assembled left those in the audience with plenty of food for thought and eager to see the two Democratic contenders, Governor Pat Quinn and Comptroller Dan Hynes, stage the same routine on November 18.


God on the Gridiron

By Shawn Healy
As a former high school football player and coach, I always appreciated the spirit and enthusiasm of our cheerleaders on game day. From decorating players' lockers to electrifying the crowd, they were integral to the atmosphere that makes high school athletics authentic and truly meaningful for young people in their formative years. Such is the case in Fort Oglethorpe, GA.

Since 2003, cheerleaders at Lakeview Fort Oglethorpe High School have constructed paper banners for the home team to crash through upon entering the field, albeit painted with biblical verses. In this heavily Protestant town, few even raised an eyebrow until an LFO parent, Donna Jackson, told the Superintendent that the practice was breaking the law and needed to be stopped. Jackson had recently taken a legal course at Liberty University, and regretted the move given that she reads the Bible daily.

Citing First Amendment concerns, the school district relented and halted any future imposition of biblical verses on gameday banners. Was their legal analysis sound?

The First Amendment's religious liberty clauses sometimes come into conflict with one another: one is free to exercise their religious beliefs, yet the state cannot establish its own religion. What happens when individuals, in this case LFO cheerleaders, use a taxpayer funded platform, namely a football game at a public high school, to trumpet their belief in God?

This proverbial play at the joints between the Establishment and Free Exercise clauses surfaced in parallel fashion in 1995 at Sante Fe High School in Texas. At issue was a student-read prayer over the load speaker at home football games. It was initiated through a schoolwide election where a student champlain was elected and his or her right to read a pregame prayer was also endorsed.

Writing for a 6-3 majority in the 1999 case Sante Fe Independent School District v. Doe, Justice John Paul Stevens said that the prayer occurred on government property and was sanctioned by a government-affiliated entity, representing official endorsement of prayer at school-sponsored events. Student speech was anything but private. Then Chief Justice William Rehnquist, in dissent, took note of the disturbing tone of the majority that "bristle[d] with hostility to all things religious in public life."

Is a loadspeaker equivalent to a student-constructed banner? Does the locus of its construction matter? How about the source of the materials used to make it? Each of these questions are critical in order to predict a litigation outcome. Moreover, two members of the majority have since left the Court: David Souter and Sandra Day O'Connor, and their replacements, Sonia Sotomayor and Samuel Alito, respectively, may or may not be more amicable to private expression of religious beliefs through public channels.

Given that LFO High nixed this potential church-state conflict before it was dragged into the courtroom, we are left with an less than satifying outcome. Locals have taken it upon themselves to trumpet the messsages formerly displayed on banners using such diverse channels as the family SUV, student t-shirts, and even an electronic billboard outside a car dealership. These private channels of religious speech are of course permissible, even admirable. However, the question of whether these earnest cheerleaders were also in the right remains unresolved.


Taking it to the Streets

By Shawn Healy
Yesterday, more than 150,000 supporters of homosexual rights took their message to the fulcrum of power in Washington, demanding equality in Washington during a window ripe for reform. Last Thursday, the House passed enhanced hate crime protections for gays, lesbians, and transgenders, a long sought after legacy of the brutal beating of Matthew Shepard in 1998. On Saturday, President Obama stood before a gala sponsored by the Human Rights Campaign and promised that he would end the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy employed by the military since 1993. He claimed that his commitment to gay rights is "unwavering."

However, given the ambitious agenda on the first year president's plate, gay rights have remained on the backburner, and Obama has given no indication of when "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" will be repealed, nor tread new ground on issues like the Defense of Marriage Act. Cautious optimism seems to characterize a movement that lined up en mass behind a barrier breaking figure in his own right.

Obama walks a precarious line between risking political capital on an issue that could undermine his frontline agenda items like health care reform and cap and trade legislation, and deferring a dream that in the eyes of many is long overdue. He likely has an eye on the last Democratic president (Bill Clinton) who grappled with the issue only to see his ambitious goals sacrificed for a peacemeal approach thereafter.

These concerns considered, Obama will find it increasingly difficult to hold back the waters of a rising tide. How will be continue a policy that facilitates the harm recounted by former Navy recruit Joseph Rocha in this Washington Post op-ed? Next month, Maine voters decide whether or not to validate a state law that enables same-sex marriage. Five states and counting constitute these ranks, though none has done so directly through the voice of the people. In the nation's capital, the city council appears likely to legalize same-sex marriages by the end of the year. The Defense of Marriage Act may be undone from the bottom up.

Bob Dylan's lyrics in The Times They Are-A Chagin' were directed at the civil rights movement of his youth, one centering on race and later gender. The following lines are apt as ever in describing the forces of change gripping government institutions across the land as civil rights reach their "final frontier."

Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don't stand in the doorway
Don't block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There's a battle outside
And it is ragin'.
It'll soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin'.


Brethren Back to Work

By Shawn Healy
The U.S. Supreme Court officially kicks off its 2009-2010 term today with an intriguing docket of 55 cases and growing. The conservative-leaning 5-4 majority is poised to take on a heavy load of cases involving business regulation in a political climate receptive to more intense government oversight of the private sector. Will the Roberts Court put the breaks on Obama's ambitious agenda?

The First Amendment also holds a front seat in the public gallery with the already reheard case concerning "Hillary: The Movie" as a proxy for the extent to which corporate money can play in federal elections. Simply stated, are campaign donations equivalent to speech, and if so, what level of scrutiny does the Court apply to corporate speech?

The clash between free speech and animal cruelty will also be put to the test, as state laws criminalizing the distribution of videos depicting acts of extreme violence toward animals are in question. Another Establishment Clause case considers the presence of a giant cross on public land that was later partitioned to the VFW.

Of local interest is a challenge to Chicago's 27-year old gun ban, an ordinance strikingly similar to the DC ban struck down by the Court last June when a 5-4 majority declared that the Second Amendment confers an individual right to "keep and bear arms." The remaining question was whether the Second Amendment applies to state and local laws, as DC is a federal territory. McDonald v. Chicago could make incorporation a reality. Stay tuned for more intense coverage of this potentially landmark case.

Finally, the Roberts Court weathers its third new iteration in 4 years with the coming of Sonia Sotomayor and the retirement of David Souter. On the surface, this appears as a tit for tat exchange of moderate liberals, but history tells us that "fair is foul, and foul is fair" when it comes to expectations and actual performance on the bench. Also lurking on the horizon is the probable retirement of the Court's longest-serving Justice, the 89-year old John Paul Stevens, who stands as the Supreme's liberal lion.


Public information on Olympics process scarce

By Jamie Loo
Media in previous host cities fought for information.

Protesters opposing Chicago's bid for the Olympics march outside of Chicago City Hall on Tuesday night.

UPDATE: Chicago did not win its bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics. The International Olympic Committee chose Rio de Janeiro as the Olympic host city on Friday morning. This story was posted to Fanning the Flames before the vote was taken. Check out a photo gallery of reaction at Daley Plaza and more photos from the Tuesday night protest on the Freedom Museum's Flickr page,

Posted on Oct. 1, 2009

By Jamie Loo
First Amendment reporter

While supporters of a 2016 Olympics in Chicago are on a media blitz before Friday’s International Olympic Committee vote, they will likely be more camera-shy with planning information if the city wins the bid.

The Illinois Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) won’t apply to the city’s organizing committee if Chicago gets the Olympics, but an ordinance passed by the city council provides a few safeguards to open public records.

The organizing committee has agreed to provide the city council’s Budget and Government Operations, and Finance committees with quarterly financial reports. The reports will include information such as revenues, expenses, construction costs, financial forecasts, insurance, and copies of financial reports submitted to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and state. Information such as requests for proposals, final construction contracts and amounts, and information on whether contractors donated anything to the organizing committee would also be disclosed. These reports will be posted on a quarterly basis to their Web site. A copy of the conflict of interest policy and required forms from the board of directors and other senior officers will be also posted on the organizing committee’s Web site.

No Games Chicago spokesperson, Tom Tresser, said he doesn’t have much faith in the ordinance’s openness commitment. No Games Chicago is a grassroots group of local residents who oppose the city’s Olympic bid, and also has a presence in Copenhagen this week. Tresser, a local activist co-founder of Protect Our Parks which sued the city to prevent it from privatizing portions of Lincoln Park, said their Freedom of Information Act requests were regularly ignored by the city.

“The city flouts the (FOIA) law routinely,” he said.

If Chicago is chosen, Tresser said he doubts that local media organizations will fight for open records because he feels they didn’t do a good job covering the bid process. He said many of the media organizations also have a conflict of interest because they donated money to support the Olympic bid. According to the Chicago 2016 Stewardship report, Tribune owner Sam Zell, the Sun-Times, ABC 7, WGN, WTTW, Chicago magazine and other media organizations donated or provided pro bono support.

Tresser said information that is available, such as a report by the non-partisan Civic Federation on the impact of the Olympics, is filled with conflict of interest issues. Companies and organizations that funded the report have either donated to the bid or stand to gain financially from a local Olympics, he said.

Pushing the local organizing committee or the International Olympic Committee to follow state FOIA laws is futile, Tresser said, because the committee will likely ignore it.

“The IOC is above all law. You can’t make the IOC and its creatures obey American law,” he said.

The press office for the Chicago 2016 bid committee did not respond to questions from Fanning the Flames for this story.

Fanning the Flames is a blog of the McCormick Freedom Museum, which is part of the McCormick Foundation. The McCormick Foundation donated money to the 2016 Fund for Chicago Neighborhoods, which awards grants to local organizations for local planning and development activities to complement the city’s Olympic bid. A specialized reporting institute in partnership with DePaul University was sponsored by the McCormick Foundation to help the media cover the Olympics if Chicago wins the bid. The foundation was also one of the contributors to the Civic Federation of Chicago study, which was released in late August. The non-partisan organization conducted an independent financial review of Chicago’s bid for the Chicago City Council.

Lack of transparency

Organizing committees in previous host cities have claimed to be private entities, exempting them from state freedom of information and open meetings laws. It’s a barrier that local media organizations had to overcome in Atlanta, Georgia and in Salt Lake City, Utah to cover Olympic development news, and later to uncover questionable practices their cities used to become host cities.

Atlanta Journal-Constitution managing editor, Bert Roughton, who was a reporter for the newspaper during the 1996 Atlanta games, said most of the records they needed were available during the bidding process, because much of that process involved approval from local and state government.

But after Atlanta won the host city bid, he said the organizing committee began claiming its private status and tried to keep records closed. Roughton said he remembers several weeks of back and forth discussions with Olympic organizers trying to get them to be more open with information. When the newspaper asked for salary figures, organizers took it as “aggressive act.” Roughton said many committee members were not public figures and unaccustomed to dealing with the press, so it took them a while to come around and understand what reporters were trying to do.

Roughton said the Metropolitan Atlanta Olympic Games Authority (MAOGA) was created as a public entity, which meant its records were subject to the state’s freedom of information law. One of MAOGA’s tasks was building Olympic venues, he said, so documents such as construction contracts were public information. The London 2012 Olympic Committee has set up a similar public entity called the Olympic Delivery Authority.

The Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games (ACOG), eventually released some records to avoid going to court, Roughton said, and agreed to make regular reports to the media on their work. He said the newspaper’s experience turned out OK overall and they were able to gain access to the top salaries of those involved with the games, budgets and other important information for the public.

At the time, Roughton said the IOC probably wasn’t accustomed to dealing with journalists armed with legal protection under FOIA laws looking for information. Roughton speculated that the IOC probably doesn’t have to deal with the same level of scrutiny as they do in the U.S., because other countries have less press freedoms.

“They (IOC) were fairly uncomfortable working here,” Roughton said.

That discomfort would only grow later when a scandal in the bidding process for the 2002 Winter Olympic Games was discovered.

Scandal in Salt Lake City

A letter from Salt Lake City Organizing Committee (SLOC) official David Johnson stating that money from the “scholarship program” would be ending for Sonia Essomba surfaced in the media in November of 1998. Essomba, a student at American University at the time, was the daughter of an International Olympic Committee member which voted to award the games to Salt Lake City in 1995. As the story unfolded, it was discovered that Essomba had received $108,350 in college tuition, rent and expenses from the SLOC. It was part of more than $1 million in improper gifts and cash presented to 24 of 114 IOC members, in an effort to secure Salt Lake City as the Olympic host city.

The American Journalism Review reported that the story triggered an investigation into the “biggest corruption scandal in the history of the Olympics” and led to investigations into the bidding practices of previous Olympic game host cities.

After the scandal broke, state legislators in Utah demanded that SLOC open their meetings and records to the public, according to archives from The Salt Lake Tribune. The Salt Lake Tribune regularly reported on the open records issues the newspaper, along with other media organizations and the public faced during the lead up to the Olympics.

By the end of March 1999 the SLOC agreed to voluntarily release documents and work on drafting an open records policy. Salt Lake City media organizations felt that the initial open records policy draft didn’t go far enough and still denied access to many meetings and records. Mike O’Brien, attorney for the Salt Lake Tribune, sent a letter to the SLOC policy committee asking them to close loopholes in the policy. O’Brien and other media attorneys argued that because Salt Lake City signed an agreement to cover the SLOC’s debts and borrowed $59 million in state funds to build Olympic venues, the organization should be open to more public scrutiny.

After four months of discussions, SLOC adopted an open records policy agreeing to some demands from the media and withholding other information. The committee agreed to a “presumption of openness” for audit, compensation and ethics committee meetings. But the public can be shut out of those meetings at any time because of personnel issues, contracts or other business that may arise, and are eligible to go behind closed doors under Utah’s open meeting laws.

The committee adopted clear language to limit the reasons for closing meetings on legal matters. Non-business and social meetings of board members would not require public notice, but any SLOC business at these events was prohibited. The SLOC created a reading room for the public with information including a list of contracts, summaries of business terms in television rights contracts, and a list of donors who contributed more than $10,000.

The SLOC limited its $1.45 billion budget to a four-page summary because of concerns it would hurt the committee’s ability to negotiate with potential suppliers. The salary figures for SLOC officers and the five highest paid employees were released, but not for lower level managers and employees. SLOC agreed to a 20 day time frame to respond to requests for information.

Months later, the SLOC hired a paralegal to help them respond to information requests from the media and agreed to release some documents which were not covered in the open records policy. Then in May 2000, the SLOC refused to release documents with scandal-related legal payments, and a list of favors that may motivate IOC members to vote for Salt Lake City, which was known as the geld document. Some committee members feared releasing the documents would interfere with the U.S. Department of Justice investigation into the bribery scandal.

After the Justice Department informed the committee that it was not the target of their investigation, SLOC president Mitt Romney agreed to open all bid-era documents with some exceptions. Romney allowed documents which may contain information related to the indictment of former SLOC officials Tom Welch and Dave Johnson to be closed, the Salt Lake Tribune reported. IOC members threatened to sue the Salt Lake committee for libel for releasing the geld document. Romney responded that the open records policy mandated its release. The media would try to get the document from other sources, he said, and if the SLOC refused requests it would be viewed as a cover up.

The Salt Lake City scandal sparked interest at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution to look back at records from the 1996 Atlanta bid committee. The newspaper along with the Georgia state attorney general’s office fought to have records released. U.S. Congress opened up an investigation into potential corruption and also called for Atlanta Olympic organizers to make records available.

In the summer of 1999, the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games released an index of 6,500 boxes of documents and processed records requests, according to the Associated Press. Roughton said the public wanted more information over time and that the Atlanta bid documents were regarded as “historical documents” by the time they were released.
In an eight-part series published by Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the newspaper found hundreds of gifts, job offers and personal favors involved in the bidding process.

The Salt Lake Tribune reported that after the SLOC scandal, Nagano, Japan -- which hosted the 1998 Winter Olympics--burned its documents related to the bidding process. In a 1999 article that appeared in the Japanese newspaper, Asahi, vice secretary general for the Nagano bid committee, Sumikazu Yamaguchi, confirmed that the committee’s accounting books were destroyed in 1992. A 1999 investigation into the Sydney, Australia committee’s bid for the 2000 summer Olympics uncovered travel, entertainment and gifts that exceeded IOC rules. The Sydney Morning Herald reported that independent auditor, Tom Sheridan, noted in his investigation report that many bid-related documents had gone missing or were destroyed.

Did sunshine equal reform?

The International Olympic Committee has an ethics commission that investigates alleged ethics violations by its members. In the wake of the Salt Lake City scandal many IOC members resigned from the organizations, who were either connected to that bid or other bids that were investigated by individual countries.

In 2002, U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) chief executive Lloyd Ward was accused of trying to help a power company get a contract to supply generators to the Dominican Republic for the 2003 Pan America Games. The power company had ties to Ward’s brother. No contracts were signed and the USOC’s ethics oversight committee decided not to discipline Ward.

The U.S. Senate’s committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation held hearings in January 2003 to investigate the controversy and other internal problems at the USOC. The hearings led to a massive restructuring of the organization, which included shrinking its board of directors from 125 to 11 people and clearly defining responsibilities for directors and staff.

In addition to having an ethics officer, the USOC also created an Office of Compliance to make sure all branches of the organization follow its code of conduct. The USOC strengthened the code’s sections on conflict of interest and spelled out the rules on gift giving. The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and its application to the USOC, was added to code. The act makes it a crime to directly or indirectly offer a bribe to foreign officials or foreign government-owned corporations.

SIDEBAR: British activists face records barriers for London 2012 Olympics

As Chicago vies for the 2016 Olympics, the 2012 Summer Olympics host city, London, is preparing for its games and has a Freedom of Information policy in place. The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG) has the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) as its public entity. ODA was created by the Parliament and will handle infrastructure such as building Olympic venues and transportation.

The LOCOG claims private status, but the ODA is subject to England’s Freedom of Information Act 2000 law. The London 2012 Web site provides information on how to file a request with the ODA and what categories of information are public.

The basic intent of England’s law is similar to FOIA laws in the U.S., except that it includes a long list of vague exemptions. England’s law also allows public officials to base a decision on whether the requestor is abusing their right to request information, harassing or causing distress to officials, or whether the request lacks a serious purpose.

Despite the ODA’s policy, members of Games Monitor, a London Olympics watchdog group, say they’ve been denied information requests on repeated occasions.

“Whenever I ask a FOI of the ODA(Olympic Delivery Authority) and it is a matter covered by LOCOG the ODA simply tell me LOCOG is not obliged to answer,” said Julian Cheyne, a member of Games Monitor, a London Olympics watchdog group.

Cheyne, an East London resident who was displaced to make way for the Olympics,
said he and other activists have been accused of making “vexatious requests.” Under England’s Freedom of Information law, public officials can deny vexatious, or repeated requests if they’re similar to prior requests. Cheyne said they have to be specific and word their requests carefully otherwise officials will provide vague answers or claim they can’t answer because of costs or time.

Independent journalist and Games Monitor member, Mike Wells, who has been writing about radioactive waste that was unearthed at the London Olympic park site, said he has had trouble obtaining records. In a Sept. 4 letter, ODA general counsel Celia Carlisle points out factors that they “advise” Wells consider when he makes future requests and warns that they may deny information if it “constitutes an abuse of the right to request information or is otherwise manifestly unreasonable.” Carlisle notes that in filling freedom of information requests, the ODA can take into account the history of a request, its context to previous requests and consider “whether the request is likely to cause unjustified distress, disruption or irritation.”

Games Monitor member and activist Charlie Charman said it generally takes government officials 20 business days to respond, which is the maximum amount of time allowed under the law. Officials then have a list of exemptions they can claim to refuse information such as commercial confidentiality and “manifestly unreasonable” requests. He said officials can also demand payment for the time it takes to process a request. If they deny your request, Charman said an appeal can take another 20 days or longer.

Some of the London Olympics’ key documents have been shrouded in secrecy. Charman said the Arup Cost and Benefits Report of 2002, which was used during the bidding process, wasn’t released until 2008 and was heavily redacted. The host city contract hasn’t been released under the freedom of information act, Charman said, because of the “duty of confidentiality” claims to the IOC.

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Managing Director

McCormick Freedom Project

Shawn is responsible for overseeing and managing the operations associated with the McCormick Freedom Project. Additionally, he serves as the in house content expert and voice of museum through public speaking and original scholarship. Before joining the Freedom Project, he taught American Government, Economics, American History, and Chicago History at Community High School in West Chicago, IL and Sheboygan North High School in Wisconsin.

Shawn is a doctoral candidate within the Political Science Department at the University of Illinois at Chicago where he received his MA in Political Science. He is a 2001 James Madison Fellow from the State of Wisconsin and holds a bachelor's degree in Political Science, History, and Secondary Education from the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

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About Fanning the Flames and the McCormick Freedom Project

Fanning the Flames is a blog of the McCormick Freedom Project, which was started in 2006 by museum managing director Shawn Healy. The blog highlights the news of the day, in hopes of engaging readers in dialogue about freedom issues. Any views or opinions expressed on this blog represent those of the writers alone and do not represent an official opinion of the McCormick Freedom Project.

Founded in 2005, the McCormick Freedom Project is part of the McCormick Foundation. The Freedom Project’s mission is to enable informed and engaged participation in our democracy by demonstrating the relevance of the First Amendment and the role it plays in the ongoing struggle to define and defend freedom. The museum offers programs and resources for teachers, students, and the general public.

First Amendment journalism initiative

The Freedom Project recently launched a new reporting initiative with professional journalists Tim McNulty and Jamie Loo. The goal is to expand and promote the benefits of lifelong civic engagement among citizens of all ages, through original reporting, commentary and news aggregation on First Amendment and freedom issues. Please visit the McCormick Freedom Project's news Web site, The Post-Exchange at