PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Photoshopped mailers are hitting mailboxes again — for the same race.
WMBD’s Matt Sheehan has completed another truth test to share the facts and fiction of these claims.
The organization Citizens to Change Illinois is using a stock photo from shutterstock.com to send out mailers attacking Mark Luft’s opponent, Travis weaver, in the 93rd state representative district.
In the ad, the face of the man dining is Travis Weaver, but his face has been photoshopped into the picture. Sheehan found the original stock photo easily, by typing in “young man having dinner at restaurant” on the Shutterstock.com website.
The ad claims Weaver comes from a “political dynasty accused of using Cook County politics. Travis’ father – Chuck – is a former Central Illinois Republican State Senator from 2015 to 2021.
In a response to the ad, Weaver said his father has nothing to do with his campaign.
“This race is about Travis weaver vs. Mark Luft. I am proud of my father, and he is the highest character man I know… I encourage Mark to focus on the issues in our race,” he said.
Further down, the mailer claims Weaver left Chicago to run for political office in Peoria. However, he left his remote Caterpillar job three years ago to come home to Peoria – where he was born and raised – before deciding to run for office.
In early March, Weaver filed petitions to run for office, but they were objected to later in the month. The objections were that his listed residence was a wedding venue and that he lived in Chicago until recently.
The Board of Elections eventually ruled this was not the case, and sided with Weaver in a vote of 8-0.
Another claim the mailer makes is that Weaver was “caught in a lie over bitcoin.” Weaver clarified this was nothing more than a practical joke taken out of context.
“Five years ago I tweeted a prank to my friends that I had bitcoin, and the next day I made it clear that it was a joke. I’ve always enjoyed having fun with people and plan to continue to do so,” he told WMBD.
While the Cook County politics comment is subjective, the bullet point about leaving Chicago to run for office in Peoria is false, and the photoshopped image is misleading.
Sheehan did reach out to Rep. Mark Luft about the photoshopped mailers, and he said his campaign did not send them out. Any ad by his campaign would read, “Paid for by People for Mark Luft,” he said.
To be clear, while this mailer did not come from the Luft campaign, but it did come from the organization Citizens to Change Illinois, whose chairman is Dave Krahn: the treasurer for the Luft Campaign.
If you have received political mailers or seen TV ads you want to see put to the truth test, email them to firstname.lastname@example.org. In the header, put “TRUTH TEST.”