Your NPR news source
Rep. Chris Miller

State Rep. Chris Miller, R-Oakland, left, speaking with another legislator at the Bank of Springfield Center, Friday, May 22, 2020, in Springfield, Ill.

Ted Schurter

Illinois House Censures State Representative For Attending 'Save America' Rally

The Illinois House Thursday censured downstate Republican Rep. Chris Miller for attending the Jan. 6 “Save America” rally that preceded the fatal insurrection of the Capitol by supporters of former President Donald Trump.

Miller was in Washington, D.C., with his newly elected congresswoman wife, U.S. Rep. Mary Miller, and told Facebook followers after the Trump rally he was devoted to waging “a great cultural war” to avert “the tyranny of socialism and communism under the dangerous Democrat terrorists that are trying to destroy our country.”

Images of the state lawmaker’s pickup truck, parked at the Capitol that day, also circulated on social media and showed a rear-window decal with the emblem of the Three Percenters, a far-right anti-government militia group implicated in the insurrection.

The resolution by Rep. Bob Morgan, D-Deerfield, condemning Miller alleged his words and actions violated his oath of office and “created an environment that potentially threatens not only the sanctity of the Illinois General Assembly but also the safety of the members and their staff.”

The measure was adopted by the House on a partisan 57-36 vote, with five members voting present and 19 others not voting. It carries symbolic weight but doesn’t impose consequential penalties against Miller, like expulsion.

“The time has come, my colleagues, Democrats and Republicans, to make a choice about what it means to be a member of the General Assembly,” Morgan said. “We owe the 13 million people in the state of Illinois a bright line that shows where we stand when we have to choose between upholding elections and the ideals of the republic, regardless of our political persuasion, or choosing insurrection -- insurrection -- when our favored candidate loses, like some chose, on Jan. 6.

“Can’t we agree here today in a bipartisan way that Rep. Miller’s behavior has so greatly crossed the line that we can say, ‘Enough. No more. This has to stop. This has to stop before somebody gets hurt’? We can disagree all day on politics and policy, and we will and we shall. But this is not about that,” Morgan continued. “This is about right and wrong.”

Morgan’s resolution included as co-sponsors House Speaker Emanuel Chris Welch, D-Hillside, and his leadership team.

In making his first statements before the House, Miller defended his conduct and insisted he played no role in the violence on Capitol Hill, where he said he and his wife went after Trump’s speech and were in lockdown mode in her congressional office for most of the day.

“I had no part in the violent events at the Capitol that day, and I condemn any and all violence,” Miller said, reading from a prepared statement through a mask he was asked to wear ahead of his floor speech.

“I can assure you my dedication to the safety and security of our state and our country [and] its citizens is second to none,” Miller said.

Miller has previously denied being a part of the Three Percenters and said he removed the sticker, which he said had been given to his son.

While Miller will continue to serve in the legislative chamber, he is still not fully in the clear because an investigation into his presence at the Capitol remains underway by the state legislative inspector general’s office.

Ahead of the censure vote, the top House Republican, Minority Leader Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs, said that probe should be allowed to run its course before the House weighed in on Miller’s conduct.

Before voting against Morgan’s resolution, Durkin, who has clashed with Miller in the past, condemned anyone who played a role in the fatal insurrection, calling it “one of the saddest days that I’ve witnessed as an American.”

But Durkin warned the resolution could carry unintended consequences.

“What we are doing is setting a new precedent, a new standard, of how men and women in this chamber are to be judged in their private lives with this resolution,” Durkin said. “This will open a Pandora’s box. That’s reality.”

Dave McKinney and Tony Arnold cover Illinois politics and government for WBEZ. Follow them on Twitter @davemckinney and @tonyjarnold.

The Latest
A greater share of Chicago area Republicans cast their ballots by mail in March compared to the 2022 primary, but they were still vastly outpaced by Democrats in using a voting system that has become increasingly popular.
As the 2024 presidential election approaches, officials, advocates and experts have expressed concern over misinformation and disinformation about candidates and elections in Chicago, Cook County and Illinois.
In interviews with WBEZ, several decried the length of sentence the 80-year-old could face, while a handful of others said he deserves significant time in prison.

From 1968 to today, volunteers in Chicago aim to connect visitors to their city, and to see some of the convention action themselves
Chicago’s longest-serving alderman Ed Burke will face up to 10 years in prison when he is sentenced later this month. WBEZ’s Mariah Woelfel shares what prosecutors and Burke’s defense team are requesting from the judge overseeing the case.