Author announces free digital copy to students and teachers

The untold story of the greatest inaugural speech in history:

Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.”

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SPRINGFIELD, IL (January, 2021)—Private investigator and founder of the Illinois Innocence Project, Bill Clutter, is offering educators a free digital edition of his debut book, Coal Tar: How Corrupt Politics and Corporate Greed Are Killing US with Cancer.

Scheduled for release on Earth Day, April 22nd, the author tells the untold story of how John F. Kennedy came up with the one-liner he delivered when he took the oath of office as President: “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.” (See attachment)

The CIPS case led to the landmark Illinois Supreme Court opinion published in 2002 in the case of Donaldson et. al, v. Central Illinois Public Service Company (CIPS). A jury found CIPS liable for causing the childhood cancer epidemic that sickened 7 children in Taylorville, Illinois, who were exposed to coal tar.

Clutter uses firsthand witness accounts, under-reported history, and engaging anecdotes, in this well-organized, easy-to-understand book to show the American public the efforts of those in power obscure the true damage done to the environment, affecting children and adults alike

“We still have the issue of coal tar sealants being applied to playgrounds, parking lots, and driveways that continues to cause damage to the environment and to the health of children,” said Clutter. He encourages students to form book clubs in their schools and to assist with a public education campaign for local ordinances and state legislation to ban coal tar sealants.

Illinois Senator Laura Fine (D) Glenview sponsored a bill in 2020 which would have required schools and state agencies that use coal tar sealants on driveways and parking lots to post signs warning the public. That bill was stalled in the General Assembly. Clutter would like law makers to ban coal tar sealants in the next legislative session.

Coal Tar: How Corrupt Politics and Corporate Greed Are Killing US with Cancer is the definitive book on the political and legal struggle to expose how corporate greed, operating in the shadows with local politicians, influences government policies.

Indeed, Scott Turow, author of Presumed Innocent, his first book that launched his career as a writer over 30 years ago, said, “…a classic story with very good good-guys and very bad bad-guys, a tale of corporate greed, lethal pollution and sick children and the heroic people who fought to make things right. A wonderful read.”

In 2001, Clutter founded the Illinois Innocence Project at the University of Illinois at Springfield. He moved to Louisville, KY after Illinois abolished the death penalty in 2011, and was credited by the Chicago Tribune, among a handful of others, when it happened. He will donate part of the book sales to a national organization of private investigators he started in 2013 called Investigating Innocence.

Teachers and members of the media, please contact Adam Day at Investigating Innocence Media ( to request an advance copy of Coal Tar, or to schedule an interview with Bill Clutter. Visit for more information.

Founding President of the Illinois Farm Union Ralph Bradley and his wife at the White House.

Excerpted from Chapter 46 The aftermath of the CIPS case

The author updates the reader on the hero of the book, Thomas F. Londrigan Sr., 30 years after he defeated a giant fossil fuel corporation CIPS in the courtroom, against the world’s largest law firm. Londrigan, now widowed, was being looked after by Margaret Casey. The excerpt below tells her father’s story never before told.

Margaret’s father Ralph Bradley was lobbying in Washington, D.C. when U.S. Senator Paul Douglas, from Illinois, introduced him to Massachusetts Senator John F. Kennedy. “He doesn’t know a thing about agriculture,” said Douglas. . .

Bradley met Senator John F. Kennedy in his Capitol Hill office just before he announced his run for president.

Bradley recalls telling Kennedy, “There’s a bill before the House that’s quite important to us.”

“Well, you know Ralph, Massachusetts is not a farm producing state, as such. It’s not a big part of our economy. Most of our constituents buy grain instead of sell grain,” said Kennedy.

Bradley shot back, “Yes, that’s true. But you’ll never be president of Massachusetts.”

At about that time, Jacqueline Kennedy arrived.

Jackie announced, “Jack, come on. Get in the car. I’ve got the car right outside. Dinner’s on the table and you’re going to go home and eat.”

Jack replied, “Jacqueline, come here, I want you to meet somebody.”

She said, “That’s fine but we better go home and eat.”

Their home was known as Hickory Hill, a 5.6-acre estate in nearby McLean, Virginia, that later became the home of Bobby Kennedy and his wife Ethel.

Bradley recalled, “She was an impetuous little thing, cute as she could be.”

Jack introduced him, “This is Ralph Bradley.”

“Hi, Ralph. How are you?” she said. “Jack are you ready now? Let’s go.”

“No. Ralph and I are going back in my office and have about an hour’s visit,” said Jack.

“No. You’re not!” Jackie protested.

“And she beat us through the door and got in Jack’s chair and dared him to sit down. So, Jack just turned to another office, which he had a suite there of three or four offices, and he said, ‘Ralph, we’ll go in there. We’ll let Jackie sit in my chair for a while.’ So, she did. She waited very graciously and came in, as a matter of fact, and visited a little,” Bradley recalled.

Bradley spent the next two hours in Senator Kennedy’s office educating him on farm policy. After the meeting, Kennedy introduced Bradley to two of his key aides, Mike Feldman, and Ted Sorenson.

Kennedy turned to Feldman and Sorenson and announced, “Now Ralph tells me that we probably have been voting a little wrong on some of these farm bills, that he feels is wrong. I’m not sure what position we’ve been taking because I’ve been taking the advice from both of you. I do know on the price support bill when we voted last year on it, I was severely criticized by the Democratic Party for voting with the Republicans on that bill.”

Kennedy admonished his aides, “I don’t want your recommendations on how I should vote on agricultural bills as it comes before the Senate until you have first checked with Ralph Bradley. I want him to be my unofficial consultant on agriculture,” said Kennedy. Ralph Bradley became a key advisor to Kennedy, heading his national campaign Farmers for Kennedy. When Kennedy campaigned in the Illinois Democratic Primary, it was Ralph Bradley who introduced Jack Kennedy to Illinois farmers in 1959 and persuaded them to support his candidacy over presidential contenders Hubert Humphrey and Adlai E. Stevenson II. Kennedy walloped them, and Lyndon Johnson, and Missouri’s Stuart Symington in the primary, taking 64.6 percent of the vote in the April 12, 1960 primary election.

After defeating Vice President Nixon, Kennedy borrowed that line of Bradley’s speech to farmers, and substituted the word “you” in place of “farmers” when he delivered the most famous line ever spoken during an inaugural address to the nation on January 20, 1961: “Ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.”

It was a call to put aside self-interest and greed for the common national interest, an idea that has even more meaning today as it did then.

Teachers and members of the media, please contact Adam Day at Investigating Innocence Media ( to request an advance copy of Coal Tar, or to schedule an interview with Bill Clutter. Visit for more information.

About the author

Louisville Private investigator Bill Clutter started his career in Springfield, Illinois. By the time the lawsuit went to trial, seven children from Taylorville were diagnosed with neuroblastoma, four would die. A jury returned a verdict in favor of the families against CIPS. The Illinois Supreme Court upheld that verdict in 2002. After Clutter narrowly lost the senate race, his investigation helped free three innocent men from death row and he went on to start in 2001 what is now the Illinois Innocence Project. He was credited, among others, by Chicago Tribune columnist Eric Zorn when Illinois abolished the death penalty in 2011. He moved to Louisville in 2013 to continue work on capital cases and started a national organization called Investigating Innocence, which help free three people, David Camm, from Indiana; Curt Lovelace, a former state prosecutor from Illinois, who was team captain of the Fighting Illini football team that won the Citrus Bowl in 1990; and Rodney Lincoln from Missouri, who spent 36 years in prison.

HOW TO GET A COPY OF THE BOOK: The author will send a free digital version of the book to those who make a tax-deductible donation of $25 or more to help Investigating Innocence free more people from prison. Go to