Illinois state Sen. Chapin Rose (R-Mahomet)
A Fayette County Precinct committeeman said he was "confused" by a "nomination process" in April that somehow led to a win for state Sen. Chapin Rose (R-Mahomet) over Robert Winchester, the longtime incumbent in the race for Republican State Central Committeeman in the 15th Congressional District, according to an affidavit obtained by Prairie State Wire.
"After this sequence of rapid nomination and voice vote on closing nominations, which in my best estimate took much less than a minute, I turned to a colleague and asked, 'What just happened?'," Fayette County Precinct Committeeman Glen Mills said in the affidavit.
Mills, a Brownstown resident, said in his affidavit that he "later learned" Randy Pollard, Rauner's downstate director who acted as chair during the convention when the election took place, "reported the vote for Fayette County as unanimous in favor of Chapin Rose."
Mills claims in his affidavit that draft minutes from the convention back up his own memories about how Rose came to win the seat on the Republican State Central Committee that had been held by Winchester since 1992.
"The only word I can use to describe the election proceeding on a subjective level is that the election of Mr. Rose was intentionally 'railroaded' through the convention at high speed while this precinct committeeman (Mills) was confused by the process," Mills said in his affidavit.
"I do not believe I was given a fair chance to vote for Mr. Winchester in the election for State Central Committeeman for the 15th District conducted on April 18, 2018, or even the opportunity to vote 'present' or otherwise not have my precinct's weighted vote be counted for Mr. Rose."
In April, sources informed Prairie State Wire that Winchester had retained counsel to launch a challenge to voting procedures in his Republican State Central Committee re-election bid.
Rose, an assistant Republican caucus leader, has represented the 51st district since 2013, having previously been a member of the state House for about a decade. The Illinois state Senate's 51st District encompasses all of Dewitt, Piatt, Moultrie, Douglas and Shelby counties and parts of McLean, Champaign, Vermilion, Edgar and Macon counties.
Sources told Prairie State Wire in April that the state GOP had run Rose against the incumbent Winchester to punish Winchester for backing Rep. Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton) in her strong but unsuccessful March primary bid against Gov. Bruce Rauner.
Earlier this month, Winchester's attorney, Steve Boulton of Peraica & Associates in Chicago, said in a letter to state GOP General Counsel John Fogarty that the race results had been determined by a "group of unelected and merely appointed staff members" with "personal and financial interests" in the re-election of current state GOP Chairman Tim Schneider.
"The procedure may have well have been employed before, but it is not properly authorized and stands in contravention of the plain language of the Election Code," Boulton wrote in his letter. "Repetition of an unlawful practice does not make it legal. If such were true bank robbery would be legal today."
In his complaint filed in federal court, Winchester alleged the Illinois Republican party rigged the April 18 election against him. In an interview published this week in the Madison-St. Clair Record, Boulton claimed to have "a number" of affidavits that prove Winchester actually won the election.
A source told the Prairie State Wire that Winchester was not even mentioned as an option by Pollard and that he'd called for a voice vote during the April 18 election.
"Pollard asked for a voice vote by acclamation for Chapin (Rose) and just moved on," a source said.
"He didn't even mention Winchester was a candidate, much less the incumbent."
Mills, in his affidavit, described what happened as slightly different from what the source described. Pollard, "very politically powerful in Fayette County," supported Rose before the convention, "which was confirmed when Mr. Pollard had papers distributed to the Convention supporting Mr. Chapin (Rose), including to me, an action which I considered improper," Mills said in his affidavit.
"At the commencement of the election Mr. Pollard announced that there were two candidates for State Central Committeeman, Chapin Rose and Robert Winchester," the affidavit said. "After announcing the candidates, Mr. Pollard immediately called for 'nominations' which caused me great confusion since he had just announced the two candidates. I did not know what the nominations were for, or what purpose they served, given that the candidates had just been announced."
Pollard then nominated Rose, who "received an immediate second," the affidavit said. "I remained confused by this procedure, since the candidates were already announced by Mr. Pollard and I was trying to grasp why a nomination process was being conducted at all. In very short order, a voice vote to close nominations occurred, and Mr. Pollard declared the election over. I do not recall any actual vote for Mr. Chapin (Rose) at all."
Mills said in his affidavit that he reviewed draft minutes from the convention, a copy of which was attached to his affidavit, and found they "comport with my recollection that no election vote was actually taken."
"Further, the minutes reflect that Mr. Pollard nominated Mr. Rose only after asking for nominations three times," the affidavit said. "This comports with my recollection that the actual sequence of from [sic] nomination of Mr. Rose to closing of nominations was very quick."
Winchester, Pollard, Mills and Rose did not immediately respond to Prairie State Wire requests for comment.