[This post has been updated to remove a weird coding error on my part.]
He just announced he’s running as a third party candidate for governor and now state Sen. Sam McCann has filed a lawsuit, with the help of Local 150, against the Illinois Republican Party, Senate Minority Leader Bill Brady and others. The lawsuit charges that he was inappropriately booted from the Republican Senate caucus after he announced his candidacy as a third party candidate for governor. Brady and others have said hey, if McCann is running as a third party candidate then he doesn’t belong in the GOP caucus. And they cut off his resources.
* Let’s have a look-see. The lawsuit quotes the Illinois Constitution…
Each house shall determine the rules of its proceedings, judge the elections, returns and qualifications of its members and choose its officers. No member shall be expelled by either house, except by a vote of two-thirds of the members elected to that house.
* And then…
Senator John Cullerton of the 6th Senate District of Illinois was first elected as Senate President by a majority of the members of the Senate and began serving in that capacity in 2009. Senator Bill Brady of the 44th Senate District of Illinois was elected Minority Leader to replace his predecessor in 2017. Plaintiff McCann never affirmatively voted for Senate President Cullerton during his time in the Senate.
A Senator, therefore, by the very nature of the Senate Rules, is either a member of the majority caucus, or, if not, a member of the minority caucus. Plaintiff McCann, for purposes of the Senate Rules, is a member of the minority caucus.
Maybe. There’s nothing stopping an independent from refusing to caucus with either party. Former Sen. James Meeks was first elected as an indy, but he chose to caucus with the Dems. He didn’t have to. But that was, again, his choice. McCann alleges he wasn’t offered a choice. He was just given the boot.
* The suit then mentions the continuing appropriation passed in 2014 which guaranteed funding for the operation of the General Assembly, which the suit claims “underscores the vital role the availability of significant taxpayer-funded resources plays in an elected representatives effective representation of his or his constituents.”
It notes that, by statute, the Senate President and the Minority Leader evenly split a pot of money for their caucus operations. They each received $5,295,074 in the new budget for operations. McCann, like all Senators, receives $73,000 to spend on district stuff.
* The suit also points out that McCann was elected as a Republican twice, details his fight with Gov. Rauner over the AFSCME bill and his resulting Rauner-funded primary fight, and then offers this explanation…
Due to what Plaintiff McCann saw as a continuous attack on traditional conservative values by Rauner’s Republican Party—including the availability of state-funded abortions, the ability for transgender residents to alter their birth certificates, attacks on working people, and turning Illinois into a “sanctuary state” for illegal immigrants—and facing the prospect of a third consecutive Republican primary opponent, on December 4, 2016, Plaintiff McCann announced that he would not seek the Republican nomination for the 50th Senate District. Rather, Plaintiff McCann decided to explore running for Governor of Illinois.
* Then, on the same day he announced as a third party candidate for governor, McCann alleges this…
On April 19, 2018, Defendant Brady, in his capacity as Minority Leader of the Senate’s minority caucus and leader of the Illinois State Senate Republican Caucus, without conducting a hearing or other proceeding, expelled Plaintiff McCann from the Illinois State Senate’ minority caucus and the Illinois Senate Republican Caucus.
On April 19, 2018, Defendant Brady, in his capacity as Minority Leader of the Senate’s minority caucus and leader of the Illinois State Senate Republican Caucus, without conducting a hearing or other proceeding, denied Plaintiff McCann access to material, taxpayer- funded legislative operational resources required for him to fulfill his duties to his constituents as the duly elected Senator of the 50th Senate District.
Brady also announced that he had accepted Sen. McCann’s proffered resignation from the Senate GOP caucus, a claim that McCann flatly denied at the time and still does today.
Interestingly enough, Sen. McCann claims to have “genuine concerns regarding what little taxpayer funds remain accessible to him; specifically, funds designated for use at district offices for payment of rent, utilities, and the like.”
* His conclusion of Count One…
Plaintiff McCann’s participation in the minority caucus, and access to the taxpayer- funded legislative resources—which are available to every other member of the Senate—are vital to his ability to represent effectively the constituents of the 50th Senate District.
The First Amendment protects against State prohibition of political speech and, conversely, State punishment or penalty for the exercise of free speech rights, especially where the State’s action infringes upon the political speech of a duly elected legislator in his capacity as such.
Therefore, Defendants Brady, et al., in their official capacities, unconstitutionally infringed upon Plaintiff McCann’s right to freedom of speech under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.
* Count Two basically restates all that with an allegation that the defendants violated his 1st Amendment right to freely associate…
Defendants Brady, et al., in their official capacities, unconstitutionally infringed upon Plaintiff McCann’s freedom of association under the First Amendment and punished him for the exercise of his associational rights when it expelled him from the Illinois State Senate’s minority caucus and the Illinois Senate Republican Caucus, and denied him access to material and taxpayer-funded resources required for him to fulfill his duties as the duly elected Senator of the 50th Senate District
* Count Three alleges violations of due process rights under the 14th Amendment…
No elected representative of the people may be barred from participation in a forum to which he or she was elected for misconduct, no matter how egregious, without a hearing.
Defendant Brady, et al., in their official capacities, unconstitutionally expelled Plaintiff McCann without a prior hearing in violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
* Count Four alleges a 14th Amendment “equal protections clause” violation…
By depriving Plaintiff McCann of the opportunity to participate in the minority caucus and the Illinois State Senate Republican Caucus where such participation is necessary for Plaintiff McCann to effectively fulfill his duties to represent the voters of the 50th Senate District, Defendants Brady, et al. created two classes of voters: one class consisting those citizens whose duly elected representatives could effectively and fully participate in the legislative process, and another whose Senator is only allowed to participate to a severely limited degree.
By denying Plaintiff McCann the vital taxpayer-funded resources necessary for Plaintiff McCann to effectively fulfill his duties to represent the voters of the 50th Senate District, Defendants Brady, et al., created two classes of voters: one class consisting those citizens whose duly elected representatives could effectively and fully participate in the legislative process, and another whose Senator is only allowed to participate to a severely limited degree. Defendants Brady, et al., in their official capacities, unconstitutionally deprived Plaintiff McCann’s constituents of Equal Protection of the law in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
* And we’re back to the 1st Amendment for Count Five…
The First Amendment protects against State prohibition of political speech and association and, conversely, State punishment or penalty for the exercise of free speech or associational rights, especially where the State’s action infringes upon the political speech or association of a duly elected legislator in his capacity as such.
Defendants, while acting under color of state law, violated Plaintiff McCann’s clearly established right against retaliation in violation of the First Amendment because Defendants’ decision to deprive minority caucus resources and/or deprive access to minority caucus and republican caucus participation was motivated at least in part by Plaintiff’s constitutionally protected speech and associational rights.
* Also of note, if you check the list of attorneys at the bottom, you’ll see they’re all with Local 150 of the Operating Engineers Union. And it’s a very long list. They have a ton of attorneys over there.
And, of course, McCann mentions the incident of being denied use of the Senate Republicans’ photographer.