ROCKFORD — The Iroquois County GOP in central Illinois has joined nearby LaSalle County's Republican Central Committee in voting to censure U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger over his vote to impeach former President Donald Trump.
While dozens of counties across Illinois voted to support LaSalle County Republicans in their censure of the Republican congressman on Feb. 3, none took a vote of their own until late last week when Iroquois County Republicans met and approved its own censure.
A censure is a public, formal statement expressing disapproval of a public official. Censure often serves as a powerful message from voting bases to elected officials and is often a sign of conflict.
Like LaSalle County, Iroquois is one of 14 counties in Kinzinger's 16th Congressional District, which also includes Boone County and much of Winnebago County.
Rockford lawyer Austin Scott Davies attempted to persuade fellow Winnebago County Republicans to approve a censure for Kinzinger last week but was unsuccessful. The party's central committee instead issued a statement saying it "strongly disagrees" with any Republicans voting to impeach Trump, including Kinzinger.
Lyle Behrends, chairman of Iroquois County's Republican Party and vice chairman of the Iroquois County Board, said the censure reflected the party's views on Kinzinger's support of impeaching Trump.
"They just felt that his vote on the impeachment was not in keeping with what the people of the GOP wanted," Behrends said. "They've been disappointed over the years, and so this was just one more thing. They felt it was necessary to make their opinion known."
Behrends said he sent a copy of the censure to Kinzinger's office but has not received a response.
Kinzinger's team released the following statement Monday:
"While representing the hardworking constituents of Iroquois County, Congressman Kinzinger has delivered for them again and again. He delivered by supporting policies that led to Iroquois County constituents keeping more of their hard-earned money. He delivered by supporting policies that benefited the agriculture community and the family farms. Kinzinger delivered by ensuring much-needed broadband was brought to Iroquois County, and perhaps most importantly, Congressman Kinzinger prevented Iroquois Memorial Hospital from closure during a pandemic.
"Congressman Kinzinger has reliably served Iroquois County and delivered real results for his constituents. Some — not all — members of the ICRCC believe blind loyalty to one man is how best to represent the interests of Iroquois County constituents. And Congressman Kinzinger does not agree with that method."
Kinzinger was the first Republican House member to call for the invoking of the 25th Amendment of the Constitution and Trump's removal from office. He was also one of 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Trump and the only Illinois Republican to do so.
Republican Liz Cheney of Wyoming, who also voted to impeach Trump, was censured by her state's Republican party last week.
Iroquois County Republicans would like to see the congressman communicate more often and more directly with the voters, Behrends said.
"Our hope is that the congressman has a more open communication with the local parties," he said. "More give and take so he can understand our position better and we can understand his position better."
In the statement released Monday, Kinzinger's team said his vote to impeach Trump was "in the best interest of the people he serves and the country itself."
"There will always be disagreements on policies and tactics, within our own party and across the aisle, but at the end of the day, Congressman Kinzinger is committed to doing what's right," the statement reads. "His vote to impeach was a vote to uphold his oath to protect and defend the Constitution, and he's firmly at peace with it."
The Senate acquitted former Trump in his second impeachment trial Saturday. Seven Republicans voted to find him guilty.