A suburban Republican lawmaker known for throwing plenty of verbal jabs during the 18-month stalemate at the Capitol said Monday that he abruptly resigned because politics is getting “too ugly.”
Rep. Ron Sandack, a top ally of Gov. Bruce Rauner, said he made his decision to step down from the Illinois House after several fraudulent social media accounts were set up in his name in recent weeks. He also cited recent automated telephone calls accusing him of accosting a Democratic staff member.
“I wasn’t looking forward to an ugly general election as it were; this additional stuff added undue pressure,” said Sandack, who up for re-election in November. “It made my family uneasy and made me re-evaluate my priorities. Politics has gotten too ugly. I don’t need it, and my family doesn’t deserve it.”
Sandack would not say if he believed the social media shenanigans was politically motivated but said he filed a report with the Downers Grove Police Department. Downers Grove police did not immediately say whether they had any police reports involving Sandack, instead suggesting the Chicago Tribune file an open-records request. The Tribune did so, but police have five days to respond.
The six-year lawmaker was an outspoken defender of the governor, serving as his House floor leader. Sandack’s desire to debate also bled into his online presence, and he frequently took to Facebook and Twitter to let his viewpoints be known.
Last week, Sandack suddenly deleted his Facebook and Twitter accounts. Asked Monday if any compromising information was accessed before he deleted his social media accounts, Sandack said “no.”
The former lawmaker said he is looking forward to life as a “private citizen” and will continue his work at a Chicago law firm.
Late last month, Sandack appeared in a segment on Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show,” where he said Democrats are to blame for Illinois’ budget impasse.
More recently, he’s been the subject of automated attack phone calls accusing him of accosting a Democratic staff member. That stems from a heated debate at the end of the spring session.
House Republicans were furious when Democrats quickly adjourned after House Speaker Michael Madigan muscled through a budget bill that ultimately stalled in the Senate. Republicans asked for a double check that required each lawmaker voting for the measure to be verified as in their seat. But that didn’t happen.
Incredulous, Sandack went to the front of the chamber to ask Madigan’s chief legal counsel why the verified roll call was never held and touched her on the arm. Democrats later accused Sandack of accosting her, which Sandack denied.
“I did not grab her. I did get in her face and talk to her,” Sandack said at the time.
Sandack first joined the legislature in 2010, when he was appointed to fill the Senate seat of Dan Cronin, who stepped down to serve as DuPage County Board chairman. Sandack moved to the House in 2013 and was up for re-election Nov. 8 against Democratic attorney Greg Hose, also of Downers Grove.
Republican leaders say they plan to name a replacement by the end of the week in order to provide time for the new representative to “get up and running as soon as possible,” said Brian Krajewski, DuPage County GOP chairman. The Daily Herald reported Monday that a leading contender is David Olsen, a Downers Grove village commissioner and vice chairman of the Downers Grove Township Republican Organization.
House Republican leader Jim Durkin said Sandack was “a dedicated and caring public servant.”
“I spoke with Ron yesterday and he indicated that his decision was personal and for the benefit of his family,” Durkin told the Tribune via text message. “I respect his decision.”
Rauner’s office declined to comment Monday.
Chicago Tribune’s Joe Mahr and Matt Walberg contributed.