GOP Illinois lawmaker abruptly resigns over 'cyber' issues

AP News
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Posted: Jul 25, 2016 10:32 PM
GOP Illinois lawmaker abruptly resigns over 'cyber' issues

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — A ranking Republican has resigned from the Illinois House after saying he faced cybersecurity issues involving fraudulent social media accounts allegedly set up in his name.

Ron Sandack, the vocal floor leader for the GOP minority in the House, said in a statement issued by the Republican leadership that his resignation was effective immediately. The statement said "some cyber security issues" had led him to "re-evaluate my continued public service."

The lawmaker from Downers Grove, 20 miles west of Chicago, did not return phone or text messages from The Associated Press Monday. But he told The Chicago Tribune that he decided to step down after several fraudulent accounts were set up in recent weeks, adding that politics had become "too ugly."

Sandack told the Tribune he had filed a report about the issue with the Downers Grove Police Department. Officials at the department would not comment, telling media outlets to file public-records requests for any information.

"I wasn't looking forward to an ugly general election as it were; this additional stuff added undue pressure," Sandack told the Tribune. "It made my family uneasy and made me re-evaluate my priorities. ... I don't need it, and my family doesn't deserve it."

Sandack, who as floor leader was the face of the House Republicans during an ongoing political feud over a state budget which began 18 months ago, was a voracious user of social media such as Facebook and Twitter. But accounts on both had been removed Monday.

An account on the photo-driven platform Instagram under the screen name "sandackrond95b," which identified the user as an Illinois state representative, remained, but had no posts and no followers.

After serving as Downers Grove mayor, Sandack was appointed to the Senate in November 2010, then moved to the House in 2013. The floor leader speaks for his caucus in debate, asking questions of majority Democratic lawmakers proposing legislation — not infrequently with the sarcasm of an opponent.

He was the GOP's representative on the nationally televised "The Daily Show" in June when the program examined the impact of the budget meltdown.

"You take a lot of hits in this job," Palatine Republican Sen. Matt Murphy said. "Was this the final straw? I guess in this case, it was."

In Sunday's statement, Sandack, a partner in a Chicago law firm, said his decision was also driven by missed time with his family, a factor Minority Leader Jim Durkin of Western Springs said was mentioned when the two spoke Sunday.

"He stated that his decision to resign was personal and for the benefit of his family," Durkin said by text message to the AP. "I respect Ron's decision and will miss him as a colleague and friend."

Republican leaders have 30 days to name a replacement for Sandack's seat. He was up for re-election in November against Democratic attorney Greg Hose, a Downers Grove Village Council member. The incumbent had more than three times the campaign cash on hand as did Hose. According to Illinois State Board of Elections records, Sandack had $128,000 in the bank as of June 30, compared to $34,000 for Hose, who said he was surprised by the announcement.

"I'm saddened to hear about the idea of computer hacking driving somebody out," Hose said.

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Tareen reported from Chicago.

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Contact O'Connor at http://www.twitter.com/apoconnor and Tareen at http://www.twitter.com/sophiatareen .