Quick Hit Ellyn Fortino Thursday August 18th, 2016, 3:07pm

Enviros Campaign To Counter Mark Kirk's 'Illinois First' Bus Tour

Environmentalists are following U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) on the campaign trail this week to counter his "Illinois First" bus tour message.

NextGen Climate Illinois is showing up at Kirk's campaign stops as part of its own bus tour, called "Kirk First." The environmental group wants to hold "Senator Kirk accountable for his actions" and show "voters how he puts his own self interests above those of Illinois."

"Despite what he'd like constituents to believe, Senator Kirk has shown that he does not put 'Illinois First,'" NextGen Climate Illinois spokeswoman Katie Cronin said in a statement. "He has voted to protect tax breaks for Big Oil and has voted to block the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating carbon pollution. It is clear that Senator Kirk does what he thinks he has to do to get re-elected at the expense of the people of Illinois."

NextGen Climate Illinois also says it has a radio buy on WILL, WDWS and WLRW in Champaign. 

The group's radio ad mentions Donald Trump, noting that the GOP Republican presidential nominee "wants to gut" the Environmental Protection Agency.

"It's crazy that Mark Kirk backed Trump for so long," one narrator says in the ad.

The other narrator says: "Make sense to me. Mark Kirk voted to protect tax breaks for Big Oil, and when he thought no one was looking, he voted to allow corporations to pump tons of carbon pollution into our air."

Kirk is coming under fire from environmentalists the same week he changed his mind yet again on who he will support for president. Kirk is back to his initial write-in choice: former CIA director David Petraeus.

Kirk un-endorsed Trump in June and said he would instead write in Petraeus, who resigned in 2012 and later pleaded guilty to mishandling classified information.

But after facing criticism for his Petraeus choice, Kirk reversed course and backed former Secretary of State Colin Powell for president. 

Last week, Kirk said on CNN he could not vote for Democrat Hillary Clinton because he "can't support someone who is for the Iran agreement." 

Turns out, Powell endorsed the Iran agreement, describing it as a "pretty good deal."

So now Kirk is back to supporting Petraeus. 

He made that news Tuesday during an interview with the State Journal-Register editorial board. 

Kirk also addressed the former CIA director's guilty plea, saying he worried that "he was always seen as a potential rival to the president. I think they went too hard on him."

The Illinois Democratic Party reacted to Kirk's comments, criticizing the Republican Senator for floating "yet another bizarre conspiracy theory."

"According to the Washington Post, Petraeus plead guilty to intentionally leaking classified information to his mistress, including 'code words for secret intelligence programs, identities of covert officers, war strategy and deliberative discussions with the National Security Council.' And, as FBI Directory Comey testified, Petraeus lied about it to FBI investigators," reads a statement from the Illinois Democratic Party.

"Considering Kirk's recent unfounded accusation that President Obama had a U.S. Senator indicted because he opposed the Iran nuclear agreement, this is certainly troubling..."

Kirk is locked in a tough re-election battle against challenger U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL,8).

Images: NextGen Climate Illinois 


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