Revolving door benefits state Rep. Tim Butler

Sandy Hamilton says she may seek appointment to the position

Months after demanding that fellow lawmakers close the "revolving door" that allows legislators to leave the General Assembly and immediately lobby their former colleagues, state Rep. Tim Butler is quitting to do just that.

The four-term Springfield Republican lawmaker announced three days after being reelected to the post that he has accepted a position with the Illinois Railroad Association.

"I can understand why people would scratch their heads on this. This wasn't an opportunity on my radar screen when I decided to run for reelection," he said.

Butler's resignation is effective Dec. 31 – one day before a new ethics law goes into effect in Illinois and 11 days before his current term would have expired.

The new ethics law, which Butler has criticized as not being strict enough, would likely have had little impact on his private-sector career plans.

"The legislature did not pass the law that they should have passed that would've prevented him from doing this. He's taking advantage of that. I don't know why he should necessarily single himself out. Why should he be the only one who suffers from this if no other legislator is applying it to themselves?" Alisa Kaplan, executive director of Reform for Illinois, said.

Butler's resignation places the decision on who will replace him in the hands of Sangamon County Republican Chair Dianne Barghouti Hardwick.

In a Nov. 20 interview, Barghouti Hardwick said two people may be appointed to replace Butler. Since Butler's current term doesn't end until Jan. 11, 2023, someone will need to be appointed for the final 11 days of his present term and then a different appointment would need to be made for the two-year term he was just elected to.

Since all legislative districts have been reapportioned, Butler's old and new districts do not fully overlap, so some replacement candidates may be eligible for one of the appointments, but not both.

Leaving the 11-day appointment unfilled is not an option because it is important that the district is represented during the lame-duck session, which meets in early January, Barghouti Hardwick said.

"It's just the kind of lame duck session that the Safe-T Act got passed in, and you know, we would want our person to vote with the Republicans against any other crazy thing like that," she said.

Republicans have been critical of the Safe-T Act for a number of reasons, including the elimination of cash bail.

As far as what criteria she would use to select Butler's replacement, she said, "It has to be a strong Republican. It would be good if it were someone who was as amicable as Tim Butler, because he is a good state rep."

State Rep. Sandy Hamilton, R-Springfield, told Illinois Times that she has spoken to "a couple people" about the appointment and is contemplating whether to apply for the position. She said she hopes to reach a decision after Thanksgiving. While Hamilton does not live in Butler's current district and would not be eligible for the first 11-day appointment, she does live in his new district and would be eligible for the two-year appointment.

Earlier this month, Hamilton lost to state Sen. Doris Turner, D-Springfield, in a bid for the 48th Senate District seat. How well she would be able to work with Turner after a brutal campaign remains an open question.

"It's Sandy's if she wants it," said a senior Sangamon County Republican official, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

Barghouti Hardwick said others have expressed interest in the position but Hamilton is the only one she would identify.

Representatives from the Sangamon, Christian and Macon County Republican organizations sit on the committee that will decide on the appointments. But since it is a weighted vote based on the number of voters within the district from each county, the final decision would rest with Barghouti Hardwick.

Scott Reeder, a staff writer for the Illinois Times, can be reached at sreeder@illinoistimes.com.

About The Author

Scott Reeder

Scott Reeder is a staff writer at Illinois Times.

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