Tag: Illinois Republicans

Right-wing extremist Kyle McCarter to run in GOP primary against Republican Congressman John Shimkus

Republican Illinois State Senator Kyle McCarter (R-Vandalia) intends to run against incumbent U.S. Representative John Shimkus (R-Collinsville) in the Republican primary in the 15th Congressional District of Illinois.

As a Democrat who lives in the 15th District, I think that Shimkus and McCarter are two absolutely awful right-wing politicians.

Shimkus has been a loyalist to John Boehner, and big-money special interests as a Member of Congress. Furthermore, Shimkus ran his first congressional campaign on a pro-term limits platform, but has now become the ultimate D.C. insider, with Shimkus running for an 11th two-year term in Congress. As a Member of Congress, Shimkus has built up an extremely conservative voting record that reflects the interests of big businesses and bible-thumping zealots, not the interests of the people of the 15th District.

McCarter would be an even worse Member of Congress than Shimkus is. As a state senator, McCarter was one of the most vocal opponents of marriage equality, even going as far as to try to repeal the Illinois marriage equality law. While Shimkus is very conservative on social issues in his own right, McCarter is even more of a Religious Right nutjob than Shimkus is.

If you want proof that the Republican Party is in complete disarray, look no further than the Republican Party in my home congressional district.

Bruce Rauner tries to buy votes from his own party’s legislators, some Republicans won’t take his money

In May of this year, Republican Governor Bruce Rauner sent out campaign donations, totaling $400,000, to every single Republican member of the Illinois General Assembly. Since there are a total of 67 Republicans in the General Assembly (47 in the state house, 20 in the state senate), that means that the average donation from Rauner to legislative Republicans is, rounded to the nearest cent, $5,970.15; the donations range anywhere from $3,000 to $10,000.

According to a (Decatur) Herald & Review report, several state legislators have refused to cash their checks from Rauner: 22 of the 67 Republicans (16 of 47 in the state house, 6 of 20 in the state senate) have not yet cashed their checks from Rauner. Given that the checks were doled out by Rauner in May, not long before the end of the spring General Assembly session and in the midst of a political stalemate over Rauner’s hostage politics over the state budget that is still ongoing, the Republicans who are claiming that Rauner is trying to buy their votes have every right to make that claim, since it’s 100% clear to this stubborn-headed progressive Democrat that Rauner is trying to buy off members of his own party.

To me, this says two things about Rauner. First, Rauner is a weak politician, since he’s not really trying to work with the Democrats who hold the supermajorities in the General Assembly. Second, Rauner is trying to buy support for his anti-worker, anti-middle class agenda from members of his own party, who are in the minority in both houses of the General Assembly.

Former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert INDICTED on federal criminal charges

Former Republican U.S. House Speaker and current lobbyist Dennis Hastert of Illinois, who presided over the lower branch of government for eight years from 1999 to 2007, has been indicted on federal criminal charges for his role in a scheme in which Hastert agreed to pay $3.5 million in hush money to a former acquaintance that he wronged for some reason:

Former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert has been indicted on federal charges alleging he agreed to pay $3.5 million in apparent hush money to a longtime acquaintance blackmailing him, then lied to the FBI when asked about suspicious cash withdrawals from several banks, federal prosecutors said.

The stunning indictment of the longtime Republican powerhouse alleged he gave about $1.7 million in cash to the acquaintance, identified only as Individual A in the charges, to “compensate for and conceal (Hastert’s) prior misconduct” against Individual A that had occurred years earlier.

[…]

Hastert, 73, of Plano, was charged with one count each of structuring currency transactions to evade Currency Transaction Reports and making a false statement to the FBI, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. He will be arraigned later at U.S. District Court in downtown Chicago.

The full indictment is available here.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Hastert, I’ll provide a bit of a refresher about who Hastert is. Hastert is a longtime member of the same Republican old boys network here in Illinois that has produced the likes of George Ryan of licenses-for-bribes infamy. During his tenure in the House, Hastert was a big supporter of pork-barrel spending projects (example of that here), especially if they benefited Northern Illinois and not other areas of Illinois and the rest of the country. As House Speaker, Hastert allegedly received tens of thousands of dollars from Turkish people that federal authorities were wiretapping. After Hastert left Congress, Hastert received a $35,000/month contract to lobby on behalf of Turkey.

However, Hastert isn’t being indicted over pork-barrel spending or his corrupt ties to Turkish interests. Instead, he’s being indicted for trying to evade federal currency transaction reports, which the federal government requires financial institutions in this country to file for any deposit, withdrawal, or other type of monetary transaction of more than $10,000. Hastert has also been indicted on a related charge of lying to the FBI about his scheme to pay millions of dollars in hush money to someone, whose identity was not revealed in the indictment for legal/privacy reasons, who he wronged. Although not confirmed, some sources are reporting that the charges may stem from actions that Hastert took when he was a high school teacher before entering electoral politics.

Just like his right-wing political cronies George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, Hastert blatantly violated federal laws. However, unlike Bush and Cheney, Hastert might actually have to serve time in prison for his crimes.

Bruce Rauner gets ZERO support in the Illinois House for his wage theft agenda

Democratic Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan scheduled a vote in the state house on Republican Governor Bruce Rauner’s wage theft agenda, and not a single member of the Illinois House of Representatives voted for the legislation, although most of the Republicans voted “present” instead of actually voting against it, presumably because they’re too scared of actually taking a stance on whether or not they support driving down wages and busting unions or not.

Here’s the official roll call on the legislation. The final tally was 0 Yeas, 72 Nays, 37 voting present, 7 not voting, and 2 excused absences. Democrats have 71 members in the 118-member house, the remaining 47 members are Republicans, and all of those who did not vote at all or had excused absences are Republicans, indicating a nearly party-line vote in which all or nearly all Democrats voted against it and the vast majority of the Republicans voted present.

To put it mildly, this is a massive victory for Illinois workers and a massive defeat for Rauner and his agenda to drive down wages, bust unions, and leave Illinois worse off than when he was sworn into office as governor. I hope the General Assembly remains a strong opponent of the Rauner agenda, as the Rauner agenda is something Illinoisans simply can’t afford.

Bruce Rauner and his allies raided Illinois transportation funds

AUTHOR’S NOTE: The author of this blog post has no intention whatsoever of running against Republican Illinois State Representative Chad Hays and is not in any way affiliated with Better Roads Ahead.

My governor and state representative, Gov. Bruce Rauner (R-IL) and State Rep. Chad Hays (R-Catlin, IL), helped raid hundreds of millions of dollars from funds collected from state gasoline taxes, which are supposed to be used to pay for road construction and maintenance. In typical Illinois fashion, Rauner, Hays, and their ilk decided to use the money for other purposes.

A political front group called Better Roads Ahead, an organization that supports repairing and replacing Illinois’s structurally deficient bridges, sent my household this mailer attacking Rauner and Hays for putting the lives of Illinoisans at risk:

Better Roads Ahead Flyer - Front
Better Roads Ahead Flyer – Front
Better Roads Ahead Flyer - Back
Better Roads Ahead Flyer – Back

To give readers of this blog post a general idea of how terrible the condition of our nation’s infrastructure is, I strongly recommend reading and viewing this 60 Minutes feature about our nation’s crumbling infrastructure. You’d be absolutely shocked at how terrible the condition of our nation’s roads, railroads, and bridges are.

I find it highly disgusting that Rauner, Hays, and their ilk would use taxpayer money collected from state gasoline taxes, which are supposed to be used to fund road construction and maintenance here in Illinois, and use the money for other purposes. I would only support raiding transportation funds and using them for other purposes if our state’s politicians literally had no other option available to them to balance the state budget. The actions of our state’s politicians could result in bridge collapses that could kill tens of people. After all, if it happened in Minnesota, it could certainly happen here in Illinois.

To put it mildly, Illinoisans simply cannot afford the Rahm-Rauner-Hays corporate agenda, especially when it comes to transportation.

Illinois Republicans rail against democracy by opposing special election for state comptroller

Republicans, who are in the minority in both houses of the Illinois General Assembly, railed against democracy yesterday by publicly opposing legislation, which is currently on Democratic Governor Pat Quinn’s desk awaiting his signature, that would call a special election, which, if I’m not mistaken, would be held at the same time as the November 2016 presidential election, to fill the final two years of what would have been Republican Judy Baar Topinka’s second term in the comptroller’s office had she not died last month.

Republican State Senator Dave Syverson of Rockford thinks that allowing Illinoisans to vote for who they want to fill the vacancy in the comptroller’s office that was created by Topinka’s death instead of allowing a political appointee to serve four years in the comptroller’s office without having to face the voters is “political”:

Republicans including Senator Dave Syverson (R-Rockford) blasted Democratic leaders for pushing the amendment through.

“I’m disappointed,” Syverson said. “It’s something that’s clearly political and the governor is doing this as part of his last hurrah.”

Apparently, Syverson thinks that whether or not to allow Illinoisans to elect their own public officials is a political stunt by Democrats and that Republicans should run the state forever. That’s one of the most un-American remarks I’ve ever heard from a politician.

Another Republican State Senator, Darin LaHood of Peoria, repeated a threat by Republican Governor-elect Bruce Rauner to challenge the legislation in court in a desperate attempt to block the special election from taking place and allow Rauner’s interim political appointee, Leslie Munger, to serve as comptroller for effectively a full four-year term without ever having to face Illinois voters in an election for comptroller:

While the amendment passed both houses easily and is expected to be signed into law, Republicans, including Darin LaHood (R-Peoria) say the fight isn’t over.

“I think there’s no doubt there’ll be a constitutional challenge to this. I think it will happen shortly after a new comptroller is sworn in on Monday,” LaHood said.

I’m not a lawyer, but the legal argument that LaHood and Rauner are trying to make appears to be badly flawed, and it’s unlikely that a court would strike down the special election legislation. Article V, Section 7 of the Illinois Constitution deals with filling vacancies in the offices of comptroller, treasurer, secretary of state, and attorney general, and it appears to allow the General Assembly to enact legislation to allow special elections to fill vacancies in those offices:

If the Attorney General, Secretary of State, Comptroller or Treasurer fails to qualify or if his office becomes vacant, the Governor shall fill the office by appointment. The appointee shall hold office until the elected officer qualifies or until a successor is elected and qualified as may be provided by law and shall not be subject to removal by the Governor. If the Lieutenant Governor fails to qualify or if his office becomes vacant, it shall remain vacant until the end of the term.

(emphasis mine)

Republicans can whine all they want about Bruce Rauner’s political appointee Leslie Munger not being able to serve four years in the comptroller’s office without having to face the voters of this state, but, more than likely, there will be a special election in order to allow Illinois voters to elect a new comptroller and Munger will only be able to serve two years before either having to face the voters of this state or step down from the comptroller’s office.