There is a lot more to 34-year-old Ben Koyl of Downers Grove than you may think: an independent lawyer by day, a bass guitarist by night and a Libertarian candidate on the November ballot for Illinois attorney general.
“Ben is an ethical man and is heavily involved,” said Mansoor Ansari, a 34-year-old Streeterville resident, Chicago attorney and former co-worker.
Ansari said he worked with Koyl five years ago at a high-volume bankruptcy law firm. It was there he said Ben didn’t appreciate the way clients were treated and wanted to see that change. That’s when Ansari said Koyl decided he was going to open his own firm.
In addition to volunteering some of his time, Koyl started his own business in January 2009; the Law Office of Ben W. Koyl, a debt relief agency, which handles bankruptcy, tax and civil litigation.
“This guy is not a career politician; he is more focused on people than money,” Ansari said. “He sees that bankruptcy is a problem that many people face and he wants to help them.”
If elected, Koyl said he plans to go after corruption in the state and said Illinois is one of the top three states with the most federal corruption conviction which he learned from a 2012 University of Illinois at Chicago study.
Koyl said Lex Green, the Illinois Libertarian Party political division director, contacted him after Koyl offered to volunteer his time. Green asked Koyl to run for office and after thinking about it Koyl called Green back and said yes.
Green wasn’t the only one who asked Koyl to run for office. Brian Lambrecht, the director of field operations for the Illinois Libertarian Party, said he continued to reach out to Koyl as well.
“Not everybody wants to run [for office]; it’s a lot of work,” said Lambrecht, 35, of Addison. “You’re going to be attacked, investigated and people don’t want to get involved.”
Lambrecht said anytime an opportunity came about, whether it was a press conference or a forum, he would use it to help get Koyl’s name out to the public.
“Once the campaign bug bit him, he ran with it,” Lambrecht said.
Koyl said he was cautious at first because he had never run for any political office before, but both friends said he’s the best candidate.
“His main focus is to seriously and sincerely look for ways to help people,” Ansari said. “He is not here for the money.”
Lambrecht said he first met Koyl at a Libertarian candidates forum at Starved Rock State Park where he quickly noticed Koyl was a complex and attentive person, eager to jump on opportunities.
“He introduced himself to me and said, ‘I’m Ben Koyl and I am running for attorney general because I want to make some changes,’” Lambrecht said.
Koyl, who grew up in a Cleveland, Ohio suburb, moved to Chicago in 2003 after graduating with a degree in history from Xavier University in 2002. In 2007, Koyl graduated from John Marshall Law School in Chicago and was looking for work.
“I was not into politics throughout law school but when the war in Iraq wouldn’t end, I began to participate in marches,” Koyl said.
Lambrecht, now Koyl’s acting campaign manager, said Koyl is different from other candidates because, if elected, he will be open to communicating with the public and listening to their thoughts just the same as before he was elected.
“He is consistent, he is not afraid to admit when he’s wrong and he’s willing to adapt to change,” Lambrecht said.
In addition to attacking state corruption, Koyl said as attorney general he plans to minimize corporate welfare and make it easier for small businesses to succeed with less taxes and regulations.
“He’ll bring the needs of the majority to Illinois residents,” Ansari said.