Tax-Fighter, Reformer Beats Illinois Democrat Machine

Published June 1, 2009

With little money and no help from the Chicago political machine, Cook County Board Member Mike Quigley on April 7 won a special election for the Congressional seat formerly held by Rahm Emanuel, now chief of staff for President Barack Obama.

Garnering 22 percent of the vote in a special election involving a dozen other candidates earlier this year, Quigley quickly put himself in a position to win the April general election against two rivals.

Quigley was elected to the Cook County Board in 1998 and earned a reputation as a maverick Democrat unafraid to stand up to the corrupt spending and political patronage practices of the local Democrat machine.

Possible Fiscal Conservatism

In a recent interview on WGN Radio in Chicago, Quigley used phrases such as “no new taxes” and “streamlining government” like a fiscal conservative.

In an interview for this story, Quigley offered his thoughts on a variety of issues.

“The American people are concerned about the ability of their government to spend money wisely,” said Quigley concerning the lack of accountability for nearly $700 billion of Troubled Asset Relief Program funds the Treasury Department has given to financial institutions and even forced them to take.

“We must allow the people to see exactly what their money is being spent on, where it’s being spent, and to whom it has been given,” Quigley added. “The proposal for a centralized Web site monitoring the stimulus funds is a good one and should be easy to use.”

Favors Fed Bailout for State

On the current state of the Illinois economy and the proposal for a 50 percent state income tax hike, Quigley appears to be against raising taxes during a downturn but in favor of the feds providing short-term help.

“State governments must be given significant aid to prevent service reductions and to support unemployment and Medicaid programs,” Quigley said. “This one-time fix should allow us to get our fiscal house in order and protect vital services the people of Illinois rely on in this time of crisis.”

Quigley has been a reformer and promises to take this attitude to Congress.

“Like I did for Cook County, I’ll work with the new president and Congress to make sure that all government contracts valued at more than $25,000 will be competitive,” said Quigley. “I will also work to cut pork barrel spending and end wasteful government spending by examining the federal budget and creating new ways to use valuable taxpayer resources responsibly.

“In 2005 I authored and passed two successful amendments to the County Code of Ethics,” Quigley added. “The first doubled the period during which a former county employee is barred from working for a county contractor from one year to two. The second requires bidders on county contracts to disclose political contributions and any former county employees on their staffs.”

‘Never Voted’ for Tax Hikes

Quigley describes himself as having a “commitment to being a fiscal watchdog.” He says he has “never voted for a tax increase” and “fought vehemently” against the recent 1 percent sales tax increase that makes Cook County “one of the most expensive areas in the country to live and raise a family.

“I’ve gotten over 300 stitches in my life, and I’m not finished fighting yet. I can’t wait to introduce myself to the special interests in Washington” said Quigley on his upcoming move.

John Skorburg ([email protected]) is associate editor of Budget & Tax News and a policy advisor to The Heartland Institute.