Controversial GOP official Craig Pesek still holds key party post

By DOUG IBENDAHL • April 27, 2011


Ten days ago we told you Craig Pesek resigned his position as the Illinois Republican Party’s State Central Committeeman representing the 4th Congressional District.


Pesek, a high school educated hot dog vendor, turned night club owner, turned top leader of the Illinois Republican Party, stepped down from his State GOP position after the Chicago Sun-Times revealed Pesek’s ties to an Outlaws motorcycle gang member, and to a convicted drug dealer.


That’s the good news.


The bad news is Pesek still retains a top position in the Cook County Republican Party.


Craig Pesek remains the Cicero Township Republican Committeeman. (Cook County is comprised of 50 Chicago Wards and 30 suburban Townships.)


So while Pesek is no longer one of the 19 on the State GOP’s Central Committee – he remains one of 80 on the Cook County Republican Party’s Central Committee.


In fact it’s because of the bad system our party uses for picking the State Central Committee that Pesek had the State GOP post in the first place. Under the system we follow (but not the Democrats) – only a few party insiders have any say. Cicero Township has the largest weighted vote in the 4th Congressional District by far.


So the guy with the gang and drug dealer ties was pretty much able to put himself on our State Party’s senior governing board.


Craig Pesek is the poster boy for passing Senate Bill 35. He’s not the only one.


I called Cook County GOP Chairman Lee Roupas last week to find out if he planned to call for Pesek’s resignation from the committee he chairs. After giving me the run around, Roupas finally made it clear he had no such plans.


Roupas doesn’t want to lead – that’s nothing new. But Pesek has to go and I do think it will happen soon. Roupas is going to have to step up and do something shortly whether he wants to or not. Other than betraying Republicans on SB35/SB600, I really haven’t seen this kid doing anything since he became County Chairman. (Roupas was for better democracy, before he was against it). The last Republican Chicago Alderman recently said pretty much the same thing. As of this year, Republicans are now an extinct species on the Chicago City Council. And the GOP didn’t even bother to field a candidate for Chicago Mayor this year.


As it now stands, Republicans living in the 4th Congressional District are unrepresented at the State Party. There is a vacancy. (Granted it’s a stretch to say they were being meaningfully represented even while Pesek held the spot.)


But in any case, the State GOP will presumably be calling a special meeting soon of the committeemen from the 4th District to pick Pesek’s replacement on the State Central Committee.


When that meeting happens – if Pesek remains Cicero Township Republican Committeeman, he’ll have a big role in picking his own replacement for the position he was just forced to resign in disgrace. That’s an absurd scenario and I find it hard to believe that even the likes of Lee Roupas and Pat Brady would be clueless enough to allow that to happen.


But given how low expectations are for our officials in this state, it’s hard to be surprised about anything anymore.


Doug Ibendahl is a Chicago Attorney and a former General Counsel of the Illinois Republican Party.


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