CHICAGO - Thirteen Chicago GOP ward committeemen will be fired at Wednesday night's Cook County GOP convention for either having voted in the Democrat primaries over the past eight years and being accused of illicit behavior.
"For first time in generations, the Chicago Republican Party is free of Democrat influence," said Chicago Republican Party Chairman Chris Cleveland. "It's a new era for aggressive Republican action against Chicago Democrats. We've had enough of the corruption."
While Cook County GOP Chairman Aaron Del Mar gave Daily Herald's Kerry Lester a slightly different version in which he took sole credit for the move, a press statement sent out this afternoon says the Cook County GOP and the Chicago GOP worked together to make the "move to end Democrat control over several Republican ward organizations."
Among those expelled were two individuals placed by House Speaker Mike Madigan in the 13th and 23rd Wards, an individual placed by Alderman John Arena in the 45th Ward, and an individual placed by Alderman Emma Mitts in the 37th Ward, the statement issued Wednesday afternoon says.
"In each case the petitions for the 'Republican' candidate had been circulated by precinct captains for his or her Democrat sponsor. In Madigan's district, the 'Republican' committeeman had circulated petitions for Madigan's fake Republican opponent in 2014," the statement says.
In the 20th Ward, the "Republican" candidate is the mother of the Democrat Committeeman. In other cases, the "Republican" candidate had never voted in a Republican primary, and many had life-long Democrat voting records.
In one case, a faux GOP committeeman was expelled because he allegedly committed multiple felonies, including solicitation of murder.
At the end of 2014, Madigan and former Democrat Governor Pat Quinn signed into legislation changes to the election code which transferred control of election judges from the Republican County Chairman to local Republican ward organizations.
The changes gave Democrats incentive to run loyal Democrats for Republican ward committeeman so that they could control all of the election judge positions in the polling place. By law, the ward committeeman from each party is allowed to appoint half of the election judges. Complete Democrat control would bar Republican party representatives from a polling place, opening the door to voter fraud.
In response to Madigan's moves, Republican committeemen made changes to the bylaws of the Cook County Republican Party disqualifying any committeeman who had taken a Democrat ballot in a recent election.
"It's an outrage that an open Democrat would try to head the Republican Party in a ward," said Cook County Republican Party Chairman Aaron Del Mar. "Fortunately, we've put a stop to it.
"The city and county parties worked together to make this happen," the statement said.
Del Mar told the Daily Herald he will not be seeking re-election as Cook County GOP Chairman Wednesday night.
Cook County Commissioner Sean Morrison confirmed to Illinois Review he is seeking the office Wednesday night.
Yes, I do plan on running, and if I am ever so fortunate to be elected I plan on the following:
So briefly -
Raise money for operations
Hire an full time executive director
Recruit and place republicans in elected offices along the COMPLETE spectrum of elective offices
Provide politics tools and training to committeemen as needed
Continue and expand the election judge program
Sync the county party and efforts with the state party for greater efficiencies, and effective results
More to come after the meeting.