The Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board sent the nominees for Illinois’ 1st Congressional District a list of questions to find out their views on a range of important issues facing the country. Republican Jimmy Lee Tillman II submitted the following answers to our questionnaire.
As a member of the U.S. House, what are or would be your top cause or causes?
Tillman: As a member of the US House my top cause would be to repair the damage that the racial divide has caused America.
Please list three highly specific needs of your district that you would make priorities.
Tillman: Access to affordable health care, access to better schools through school vouchers, and better roads and infrastructure so companies can invest in the 1st District.
Who is Jimmy Lee Tillman II?
He’s running for: U.S. Congress, 1st District
His political/civic background:
- 2010 Republican nominee for MWRD
- 2014 Republican nominee for 1st Congressional District
- Republican Leadership Initiative Fellow
- Founder of the New Martin Luther King Republicans
His occupation: Business owner
His education: Central State University
Campaign website: www.jimmylee2dc.com
Bipartisanship is virtually non-existent in the House. What would you do about that?
Tillman: As a Black republican, I would meet with the members of the Democrat lead Congressional Black Caucus and take their concerns to the Majority party with the hopes of passing bipartisan legislation.
Are you convinced that Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election in support of the candidacy of Donald Trump? Please explain.
Tillman: I am not convinced that Russia meddled in the 2016 Presidential Election specifically in support of President Trump because the FBI said that Russia used Facebook and other social media to negatively influence both campaigns.
Do you support the investigation being conducted by special counsel Robert Mueller? Please explain.
Tillman: I do not support this investigation that was initiated over the firing of Director James Comey. The President had every right to fire Mr. Comey based off the recommendation from the Justice Department. This investigation has not found anything linking President Trump to Russia. It has only been used to justify the election loss of Hillary Clinton. America was not this angry when President Bush was accused of stealing the election from Al Gore in 2000.
If President Trump were to fire Mueller, directly or indirectly, what should Congress do?
Tillman: If President Trump were to fire Special Counsel Mueller then the Congress should take a look at the circumstances surrounding his firing and see if it is justified. If it is not justified then the Congress must look at the law and act accordingly.
If Trump were to pardon his former campaign aide Paul Manafort, what should Congress do?
Tillman: The President of the United States has the constitutional power to pardon. There is nothing that Congress can do about that. If elected, I would request the pardons of as many of the countless number of citizens who have been incarcerated for non-violent drug offenses that is possible. Many of these citizens,that were heavily sentenced by the 1990 Clinton Crime Bill deserves a second look and a second chance.
Which three actions taken so far by the Trump administration do you most strongly support?
Tillman: In no particular order.President Trump’s support of Historically Black Colleges and Universities. In March he signed the the $1.3 Trillion Federal Omnibus Budget that added money for infrastructure and financial aid for HBCUs, the Title III HBCU Program gained 34.9 MIL more in funding,which brought the discretionary total to $279 MIL, and the HBCU Capital Finance Program Fund will be increased by $10 MIL,bringing the total to $30 MIL,in order to provide financial resources at a lower interest rate for HBCUs to build new buildings on their campuses. I also support President Trump’s expansion of the federally funded Apprenticeship Program to help workers. This will help train those that have been left behind and unable to adapt to the current economic trends and place students into better jobs without them going into debt, that may come from attending a four year college or university. Lastly, I support The First Step Act, which would place federal prisoners closer to home, allow more home confinement for lower-level offenders, and expand prison employment programs.
Which three actions taken by the Trump administration do you most strongly disagree with?
Tillman: I had issue with the administration’s mishandling of the illegal detainees situation at the southern border and the roll-out of the travel ban. As a republican voter, I feel that the Trump administration is fulfilling its campaign promises.
The Trump administration has taken action to roll back Obama-era policies aimed at curbing climate change and limiting environmental pollution. The administration has done so in the name of supporting business growth and making the United States more energy self-sufficient. Most notably, the administration has begun to dismantle Obama’s federal rules over American coal plants, weakened automobile fuel-economy standards and ended American participation in the Paris climate agreement. What is your take on all this?
Tillman: If these actions, taken by the Trump administration, has created a robust economy and high consumer confidence; opened up closed steel factories and coal mines;and generated unprecedented job growth in industries that were said to never return, then I am in favor of them. Who knows, it is possible that the local print media may be on the rise again as well.
To what extent is climate change a man-made phenomenon? How serious is the threat to our children’s future? What should be done?
Tillman: By definition, climate is the statistic of weather over a long period of time. Weather is not constant nor controlled by man. The climate change “issue” is a man-made phenomenon that needs to be studied independently by scientist who are not beholden to corporations or special interest groups looking to influence legislation. Our children deserve the truth about this matter and shouldn’t be frightened without a such a study.
What is the single most important action Congress can take to curb gun violence?
Tillman: Being a Chicago resident, with the nation’s strictest gun laws on the books and as many as 30 people shot each weekend, I believe more federal legislation is unnecessary. Not enough law abiding citizens have the option to protect themselves. If they do not carry a firearm they run risk of becoming a victim of a crime. If they do carry a firearm they run the risk of being shot by law enforcement. It must be noted that most gun-related crimes are carried out using illegally owned firearms. Citizens who legally own firearms use them for lawful purposes much more often than they are used to commit crimes. Congress should focus on the complex societal problems at the root of gun violence instead of creating new laws that violate Americans’ constitutional rights.
Is the media the “enemy of the people”? Please explain.
Tillman: It all depends on the lens one sees the story out of. As a Black American male, the media has portrayed us as violent, dead-beat fathers, uneducated and out of control, dope-dealing,drug addicted thugs. It very rarely show Black men in a positive light. This causes us to suffer a bias in the eyes of the police, the judiciary system, and in the broader community. While many may view these stories as real news, there are those in my community that view them as fake news. This type of coverage is dangerous and irresponsible. That makes it difficult to say if the media is the “enemy of the people” because it depends on the view one see the story.
As an editorial board, our core criticism of the tax overhaul legislation pushed through Congress last December is that it lowers taxes on corporations and the wealthiest Americans at a time of historic inequalities of wealth and income in the United States. We believe in free markets, but the ‘silent hand’ of the market does not seem to be rewarding merit fairly. What’s your position on last December’s rewrite of the tax code? Would you push for further changes, or for the law’s repeal?
Tillman: I supported the federal tax plan passed by Congress in December. Many working-class Americans saw an increase in their paychecks. This created more disposable income that was used to pay bills, cut down personal debt, and was pumped backed into the economy. There are many small Black corporations in the Black community, e.g. Harold’s Chicken Restaurants Ma and Pa Record Shops, contractors, daycare, hair care, lawn care, etc. Small Black businesses hire Black citizens. Small Black businesses need tax breaks too.
Speaking of income inequality, top executives of America’s biggest companies saw their average annual pay surge to $18.9 million in 2017, even as the pay of ordinary workers has remained flat for a decade. What, if anything, should be done to address the growing gap in wealth and income?
Tillman: A way to address this is to create a climate where small businesses can thrive in the inner cities. Business ownership is a pathway to creating wealth. With incentives and tax breaks these business will hire from the communities and create a strong local economy.
Would it be appropriate at this time for President Trump to invite Russian President Vladimir Putin to visit the White House? Why so, or why not?
Tillman: It is not appropriate at this time to invite Russian President Vladimir Putin to visit the White House until the Mueller investigation has come to a conclusion. This will bring closure to the 2016 Presidential election. Only then should the invitation be extended.
How would you assess and grade the Trump administration’s efforts to recalibrate our nation’s relationships with Korea, NATO and Russia?
Tillman: I would give the President a grade of A on Korea. Many have forgotten that the war in Korea never ended. The North and South Koreans meeting for the first time since the war, the honorable return of our fallen soldiers’ remains, and the possibility of a nuclear free Korean Peninsula is promising. I would give the President a grade of A on NATO. The President’s position caused members of NATO to finally pay their fair share, something that other presidents spoke of but never delivered. I would give the President a grade of C- on Russia. Even though we are making strides together in Syria, until the FBI Special Counsel Mueller investigation has ended and we have closure to the 2016 Presidential Election the jury is still out, and it could be much higher.
In late June, the Supreme Court upheld the Trump administration’s travel ban on visitors and immigrants from seven countries, five of which have Muslim majorities. What is your view on this ban?
Tillman: I believe the President, regardless of their Party, has the power and authority to keep America safe. I, as a civilian, do not have clearance to know if the threat is relevant or not so I must trust the President.
What three major reforms should be made to United States immigration policy?
Tillman: Reform to the chain migration policy, overturn the Immigration Act of 1990, and place a cap on the numbers of immigrants we allow in the country.
Do you support or oppose the family-based immigration policy sometimes called “chain migration”? Please explain.
Tillman: I oppose chain migration because there are too many loopholes. I would not allow adults children, uncles, aunts, or cousins. Only immediate family, spouses, parents, and some cases grand parents. The host must be able to speak and read English before they can send for a relative.
What would you do, as a member of Congress, to improve race relations in the United States?
Tillman: Some people are saying that since the election of President Donald Trump our country’s race relations has reach an all time low. I will try to improve things by helping the President to understand the pain that Black America is suffering and has been suffering. I would take him on tours of blighted neighborhoods to show him the suffering. I would introduce legislation that could help repair the damage that has been inflicted upon Black Americans for 400 years. Outside of that, I will keep praying to God that life will get better for Black America.
What is the biggest difference between you and your opponent?
I have known Bobby Rush for many years and I respect him and his family. Our difference are in no ways meant to be viewed as disrespectful but we have differences. My opponent believes that since the election of the 1st African-American President, Black America has reached the Promised Land, I believe we have a long way to go. My opponent refuses to meet with the President of the United States and I will not only meet with the President but bring home results. I will make sure all citizens are cared for from Grand Boulevard to Robbins, all the way to Frankfort. As a representative, you must meet with the President. My opponent believes in the 1990 Clinton Crime Bill that incarcerated so many Black youth from my generation, I do not. My opponent believes that the Chicago Police needs military style weapons to patrol our neighborhoods, I do not. My opponent believes ICE should, be eliminated, I believe that MS13 is a threat to our community and so is the trafficking of missing Black girls and in my opinion ICE is necessary to thwart this. My opponent believes in the DREAM act for illegal aliens. I believe that Black Americans are still trying to achieve the dream that Rev. King left for us. Finally, I believe by my opponent refusing to meet with the President he is alienating the Black community. As a Black Republican I believe where we go one we go all.
Ahead of the historic 2018 elections, the Sun-Times is teaming up weekly with the Better Government Association, in print and online, to fact-check the truthfulness of the candidates. You can find all of the PolitiFact Illinois stories we’ve reported together here.