SPRINGFIELD — Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s office didn’t know that Confederate Railroad had been booked for the DuQuoin State Fair until the media asked about it, according to emails obtained by the Associated Press.
The country music band’s booking was cancelled because its use of Confederate imagery. A boycott movement against the fair quickly followed.
The AP reported that the governor’s office cancelled the booking within 24 hours of finding out about the booking, two months after the fact.
From the Associated Press:
Pritzker’s Agriculture Department scratched Confederate Railroad’s Aug. 27 appearance at the southern Illinois festival just a day after the fair’s lineup was announced on June 17, the same day a popular political blogger asked the governor’s office in a text whether it was appropriate to bring the band in given its name, emails and text messages obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show.
The Agriculture Department’s lawyer notified the DuQuoin fair manager of the cancellation hours before the band’s frontman sent an email explaining that the name “was never intended … as a political or racial statement.”
Dumping the band rankled music fans and others in southern Illinois, who complained that they must kowtow to the whims of liberal Chicago Democrats such as Pritzker. A Marion motorcycle dealership has booked the band for Sept. 5. But after the Illinois dust-up, the group lost a second show at the Ulster County Fair in New York’s Hudson Valley Aug. 1.
Spokeswoman Emily Bittner said last month that Pritzker’s “guiding principle” is to prohibit spending tax dollars to support emblems representing racism or hate.
Asked Tuesday for a copy of the policy, Bittner said, “Some values are so fundamental that they transcend a written policy, and this administration has made clear that state resources will not be used to promote symbols of hate or racism.”
Krista Lisser, spokeswoman for Agriculture Director John Sullivan, did not respond when asked whether agency officials were aware of the policy when they signed the $7,500 Confederate Railroad contract in mid-April. Bittner said no one faced discipline over the matter.