Pritzker: Rebuke of GOP legislator for Jan. 6 rhetoric ‘right thing to do’ — even if it won’t make him ‘mend his ways’
Before the state House vote Thursday, Miller rose and told the chamber that he had “no part in the violent events at the Capitol that day.” On Friday, the resolution’s sponsor said Miller “failed to take ownership of his pattern of behavior.”
SPRINGFIELD — Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Friday that state legislators were right to condemn state Rep. Chris Miller for rhetoric they say helped incite the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, arguing the downstate Republican’s remarks were “in that category of hatred and intolerance.”
But while the Democratic governor said Miller was not someone “the public should want to have representing them,” he doubted the resolution that passed Thursday night would have much effect on the southern Illinois cattle farmer.
“I have had my own interactions with the representative,” Pritzker said at an unrelated news conference in downstate Belleville. “I think he is somebody who carries those views with him everywhere he goes. And I’m sorry to say that I think a resolution that passed, even though it’s the right thing to do, my guess is he will not have a positive response to it and mend his ways.”
Before the Illinois House vote Thursday night, Miller rose and told the chamber he had “no part in the violent events at the Capitol that day.”
The House rejected that defense on a partisan vote.
“Can’t we agree here today in a bipartisan way, that Rep. Miller’s behavior has so greatly crossed the line? And we can say, ‘Enough, no more. This has to stop before somebody gets hurt,’” said the resolution’s sponsor state Rep. Bob Morgan, D-Deerfield.
Miller’s activities on that January day came under greater scrutiny after the Oakland Republican’s pick-up truck was spotted on the day of the riot in Washington, D.C., bearing the symbol of a far-right militia group accused of participating in the insurrection.
During a Facebook live broadcast of a rally of President Donald Trump supporters that day, Miller said they were all “engaged in a great cultural war to see which worldview will survive. Whether we will remain a free people under free market capitalism or whether they will put us under the tyranny of socialism and communism and dangerous Democrat terrorists.”
The resolution to condemn Miller passed on a party line vote, 57 to 36. Five representatives voted present, arguing they could not take a position because they serve on the House Ethics Committee. Another 11 Democrats and two Republicans who were in the chamber did not vote.
Morgan argued that Miller’s words were not a “mistake” but a “pattern of behavior.”
“On that day, that day, Rep. Miller stood with the insurrectionists. That’s indisputable. But if Mr. Miller regretted his words, is remorseful for his actions, he hasn’t shown it,” Morgan said.
After being reminded to wear his mask while speaking, Miller defended himself Thursday evening.
“I had no part in the violent events at the Capitol that day, and I condemn any and all violence. I can assure you that my dedication to the safety and security of our state and our country’s citizens is second to none,” he said.
Miller said after attending the pro-Trump rally he spent the day in lockdown at the offices of his wife, U.S. Rep. Mary Miller, not leaving until after 8 p.m.
The freshman congresswoman also got into hot water for her words on Jan. 6. At the same rally, she was recorded telling the crowd that “Hitler was right on one thing — that whoever has the youth has the future.” She later apologized for the remark.
On Friday, Morgan told the Sun-Times Chris Miller’s statement on the House floor “failed to take ownership of his pattern of behavior.”
“The fact that he fails to see the harm of his actions is precisely why this resolution had to be called on the House floor. If there is no accountability, this kind of reckless behavior will continue,” Morgan said Friday.
During debate on Thursday, Illinois House Republican Leader Jim Durkin rose to oppose Miller’s condemnation, saying the resolution’s “bold, broad claims and conclusions” could not be supported and that it was the role of the legislative inspector general to investigate the state legislator.
“This will open a Pandora’s box. That’s reality,” the Western Springs Republican said. “I will just state that there is a place for someone to lodge their objections or complaints. And that’s the legislative inspector general.”
Last month, the Illinois Democratic County Chairs Association did just that, filing a complaint against Miller and asking the legislative inspector general to investigate.
But state Rep. Daniel Didech, D- Buffalo Grove, countered that it’s not just what the Republican said on Jan. 6 that deserves condemnation.
“How many times do we have to hear Rep. Miller call Democrats ‘terrorists’ or ‘the enemy’ before we can start taking his words seriously?” Didech asked his Republican colleagues. “How many times does Rep. Miller have to ‘accidentally’ find himself supporting the overthrow of the United States government before we can stop pretending we don’t see what’s going on here?”
After the vote, state Rep. Deanne Mazzochi, R-Elmhurst, accused the Democratic majority of “libel” for condemning her GOP colleague.
“You uttered a lot of the words you did today precisely because you know that Chris Miller has enough grace that he is not going to retaliate against you. He’s not going to try to do you harm, which, of course, undermines the whole theory of the motion,” she said.
“How many of you have the courage to go say what you said today to Chris Miller, in his home on his farm? Where maybe the consequences of your words would actually have consequences.”
On Friday, Morgan blasted Mazzochi’s remarks, saying they were “unbecoming of an elected official” and that she should “apologize to her constituents for embarrassing them.”
Rachel Hinton contributed from Chicago