State Rep. Allen Skillicorn, R-East Dundee, announced his intent to formally begin the process to recall Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker, namely citing issues with the state's unemployment website, Illinois Department of Employment Security.
"The governor has had ample time to fix this website,” Skillicorn said in a news release on his website. “I called him out on it, and nothing has been addressed nor has there been a plan presented to fix the problems. Enough is enough. The incompetence cannot continue.”
Such a resolution would require bipartisan support in both chambers of the Illinois General Assembly, plus hundreds of thousands of Illinois voters.
Skillicorn cited a timeline of what he called "the Governor's failings." Skillicorn criticized Pritzker for a "glitch" that briefly made private information of some applicants public along with the long wait times and confusion surrounding IDES and unemployment qualifications. He said in a Tuesday news conference that he believed Pritzker had minimized the significance of the glitch/hacking issue.
In a Tuesday media address, Skillicorn denied the effort to recall Pritzker was a partisan one, confidently stating his belief that he would get the necessary votes from the legislature to get the recall effort on the ballot.
“The truth be told, the governor has only dedicated a handful more people to assert those phone lines and every single day I get dozens and dozens of calls that need to get through to those phone lines either to schedule appeals or have never been able to get through in the first place," Skillicorn said. "The governor has had one job and one job only and that’s to make this system work. Again, there’s other things you can be critical of the governor, there’s other things you can say he’s done OK, but on this particular one, he’s really failed the people of Illinois.”
The representative also was critical of Pritzker's handling of the rights of business owners during the COVID-19 pandemic. Attached to Skillicorn's call was an affidavit calling for signatures for the recall effort.
“The governor changed the rule about misdemeanors," Skillicorn said. "He wanted to prosecute small businesses for opening up and people that basically disregarded his executive order … with a misdemeanor. While tens of thousands of people called their state representatives and called their state senators and the governor was forced to backtrack."
Pritzker has said numerous times in his daily COVID-19 press briefings that the IDES unemployment website was outdated and not prepared for the level of unemployment that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused. The website was overhauled in April for the first time since 2010. He said that by March 21, the phone lines should have been more fully-staffed, claiming "we should have put 2,000 more people on the phone lines."
“Our state unemployment filing systems, which were built a decade ago for a much lower number of claims, simply haven’t kept pace,” Pritzker said on April 13, when he announced the overhauled website. “This was the painful truth that we discovered when unemployment began to spike.”
In 2010, Illinois voters approved a referendum to add an amendment to the Illinois constitution that allows voters to recall the governor. The referendum passed in the wake of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich impeachment in 2009.
A recall petition would need to be signed by 10 state representatives from each party, as well as five state senators from each party. A petition would also have to be signed by 15% of the total votes cast in the last gubernatorial election – or about 682,000 voters. It would need at least 100 signatures from at least 25 counties.
"It’s just today that I’ve started and I already have three other representatives that have signed on to this affidavit and I fully plan on being able to get the full 30 that we need," Skillicorn said.
If the petition meets those requirements, a special election would have to be called. A simple majority vote would be required to recall a governor.
While in the process of seeking out signees, Skillicorn claimed that he wasn't looking for coverage for the affidavit.
“I would actually prefer to avoid coverage," Skillicorn said. "This is a non-partisan issue. This is about the people of Illinois. This is not my voice. Let it be heard, it’s the voice of over 1 million people in Illinois that have been unemployed, that’s really the big deal here. It’s not about me, it’s not about my party. I’m the person that bucks my party and the partisan system at every turn.“
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