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Press not invited to Palin's GOP fundraiser
By Joseph Ryan | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 5/12/2010 12:01 AM

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Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin will headline a major fundraiser for the Illinois Republican Party today, but the press is not invited to the event, making it unlikely her words will get to the general public.

Yet, the press is allowed to hear what she has to say while headlining a conservative radio talk show event at the Rosemont Theatre tonight, though cameras and recorders are not allowed.

Illinois Republican Party Chairman Pat Brady says the GOP is following its usual protocol in keeping the press out of the $500-a-seat Palin fundraiser at the Westin O'Hare in Rosemont.

"This is not unusual," he said "The majority of our fundraising events are closed to the public."

Palin's visit comes at a time when the former vice presidential candidate is gaining increased attention as a spokeswoman for the so-called tea party movement and playing rainmaker in races across the country.

Palin also has been critical of President Barack Obama, calling his motives as well as his national security and domestic policies into question.

However, her broad appeal in Illinois appears in doubt given the state's Democratic-leaning political landscape. Even top-ticket Republicans aren't planning to attend the Palin fundraiser, which is advertising ticket prices of up to $25,000 for a private round-table and photo.

Two top congressional candidates, state Sen. Randy Hultgren of Winfield Township and Kenilworth businessman Robert Dold, say they have other plans tonight. Hultgren is challenging U.S. Rep. Bill Foster in the far West suburban 14th District and Dold is running for an open north suburban seat in the 10th District.

State Sen. Bill Brady, who is running for governor, originally didn't plan to attend, but added Palin to his schedule on Friday. Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk of Highland Park, who is running for Senate, says he will have to be in Washington, D.C., tonight to make some planned House votes.

Republican officials waved off questions about why some candidates weren't attending. Brady said ticket sales have gone well, but he wasn't sure of the latest tally. The AM 560 WIND event at the 4,400-seat Rosemont Theatre was nearly sold out as of Tuesday afternoon, said station spokesman Dan Nelson.

"We expect to be full," he said. "It seems like a good fit."