Mayor Lightfoot accuses conservative PAC of darkening her skin in anti-Gov. JB Pritzker TV ad

Political ad does not mention Darren Bailey by name, despite being paid for by previous supporter

Sarah Schulte Image
Thursday, August 25, 2022
Conservative PAC denies darkening Lightfoot's skin in TV ad
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot is accusing a conservative PAC of darkening her skin in an anti-Governor Pritzker TV ad.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Mayor Lori Lightfoot is calling out a conservative super PAC over a new ad that includes her image to attack Governor Pritzker.

She claims the ad uses "racist tropes" and altered her skin to appear darker.

The 30-second spot was paid for by a pro-Darren Bailey political action committee and opens with a clip of Lightfoot from a City Club speech in April that she said darkened her skin.

"I'm Black. I'm proud of that," Lightfoot said. "So why do you need to blacken what I look like to send this ad out to suburban communities?"

The ad was created by the People Who Play By The Rules PAC headed by conservative radio host Dan Proft. He denies changing the color of Lightfoot's skin or darkening any other image in the TV spot.

"It's insane, it's pathetic," Proft said. "It's somebody who is trying to do the old race hustle that we know very well in Chicago."

ABC7 Political Analyst Laura Washington discusses a controversial ad that appears to make Mayor Lori Lightfoot's skin look darker.

Proft said he simply took the City Club speech off the internet and used her "summer of joy" line in the ad.

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The ad also uses various news images of crime in Chicago, warning people that Chicago violence is coming to the suburbs.

"It shows Black men - I don't know where from, I don't know if they are even from Chicago - who are violent and looting," Lightfoot said. "It's the ultimate dog whistle being propagated in support of Darren Bailey."

Political science experts say American politics has a long history of using racial anxiety to appeal to certain voters.

"Historically, those ads do work," said Jamie Dominguez, a political science professor at Northwestern University. "They do have a way of impacting and getting the base to actually respond to that. This is nothing new. We're going to see this particularly as we move closer to November."

While the ad was created by a pro-Darren Bailey PAC, a spokesman for the Republican candidate for governor said the campaign has no communication or control over the PAC.