SPRINGFIELD-The Illinois Supreme Court has sided with the Cook County Republican Party, ruling that tie votes by the Illinois State Board of Elections are subject to judicial review.
The Republican Party said before the high court's ruling, complaints filed with the Board of Elections could die in closed preliminary hearings by a 4-4 party-line vote without any court review.
"In a county where political corruption and waste goes largely unchecked, this decision by the Illinois Supreme Court signifies that abuse by Democrat ward bosses in Chicago deserve a full hearing in a court of law," Cook County Republican Party Chairman Lee Roupas said in a statement.
The county GOP filed complaints August 30, 2005, after it said it found that at least 16 Democratic committeeman were using taxpayer dollars for political purposes.
Complaints included that committeemen were using publicly funded office space for political activities and were failing to report the use of office space as an "in-kind" contribution on campaign financial disclosure statements filed with the elections board, court papers indicate.
The Board of Elections voted 4-4 along party lines on whether to conduct public hearings in the cases. The panel dismissed the complaints due to a "lack of justifiable grounds."
An Illinois Appellate Court panel ruled that a 4-4 decision is not subject to judicial review. The Illinois Supreme Court reversed the decision late last month, holding that the Appellate Court must review the evidence to decide if the cases should proceed.
The GOP's complaints now return to the Appellate Court for a review, as ordered by the Supreme Court.
"We hold that the dismissals are subject to judicial review of all questions of law and fact presented by the record, including whether the complaints were filed on justifiable grounds," Supreme Court Justice Thomas Kilbride wrote for the high court.