SPRINGFIELD — The most vocal Illinois House Republican and a top ally of Gov. Bruce Rauner is resigning, citing a spate of social media hacks that caused him to re-think the relation between his family and work lives.
Rep. Ronald L. Sandack, a Republican from Downers Grove and partner at Gaido & Fintzen, announced in a statement Sunday that “cybersecurity issues” prompted him to think more about his family and to resign immediately.
“I have always recognized there is no greater privilege than being a father and husband,” he said in the statement. “My duties in Springfield have meant missing a lot of events in the lives of my children. I am no longer willing to miss important family events.”
Sandack could not be reached for comment this morning. But the political blog Capitol Fax reported Sunday night that Sandack said he’d had to fight multiple impersonators on Facebook and Twitter for weeks and that they were upsetting his family. He also said he had filed a police report to investigate the source of the hacks.
Sandack had filed for re-election this year and was finishing his second term in the House after serving one term in the Senate. As a GOP floor leader, he was tasked with articulating party-line stances on many of the bills and issues that came to the floor.
House Republican Leader James B. Durkin of Western Springs said in a statement today that Sandack is a “dedicated and caring public servant.”
“I want to thank him for his service to his constituents and the entire state of Illinois. I wish him well in his future endeavors,” Durkin said.
Sandack was one of the few Republicans who backed same-sex marriage legalization in 2013 and was a proponent of a state pension-reform plan that was ultimately ruled unconstitutional last year. He was a prolific Twitter user who would sometimes use the social media platform to comment on debates as they were happening.
His profile was large enough that it helped spur rumors he could become chairman of the Illinois Republican Party after former chairman Pat Brady resigned a few years ago.
Once Rauner was elected in 2014, Sandack seized on his appointment as a minority party leader in the House.
He sought to poke holes in many Democratic measures — one example was a bill to reduce the size of civil juries from 12 to six members, which he called “a ruse” and a “carrot-on-the-stick trick” so plaintiff lawyers could get more favorable verdicts — and advocated for the union-weakening, business-friendly reforms in Rauner’s “turnaround agenda.”
He was also arguably the voice of the GOP during the yearlong budget stalemate that just ended earlier this month with a temporary, six-month spending plan.
After months of banging the drum for things like tort reform, term limits and a property tax freeze as preconditions for a full budget plan, Sandack articulated why part of the agreement that allowed Chicago Public Schools to raise property taxes for teacher pensions would still be acceptable to fellow Republicans.
“This is not a mandated property tax increase, is it?” he asked Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie, the bill’s Democratic House sponsor, before adding later: “It’s local and permissive, and it’s a measure for local control, wouldn’t you say?”
At a news conference today in Chicago, Rauner reiterated his call for term limits, saying members of the General Assembly should vote on a constitutional amendment to limit legislators’ time in office this fall. A Rauner spokeswoman could not be reached for comment on Sandack’s resignation, and the governor did not mention it in his remarks.
“We’ve gotten some important things done. But I’m as frustrated as everyone else that we haven’t been able to tackle the biggest challenges facing our state,” Rauner said in prepared remarks sent out by his office. “These past 18 months have been a humbling experience — I’ve learned just how entrenched the politicians holding power are. They don’t want to change.”