Mark Weyermuller

Weyermuller: Do Illinois Republicans Want Amnesty?

Are Illinois republicans supporting immigration reform for illegal aliens?  The “establishment” Republican party held a press conference Tuesday with over 400 people in attendance at Chicago Club. This major public policy event, sponsored by the Illinois Business Immigration Coalition, was attended by over 400 people.
The IBIC Principles for immigration reform are visa expansions for high skilled, low skilled, and agricultural workers, legalization and citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants.
Illinois Review contributors were here, including Nancy Thorner covering the “pro-American/Anti-Amnesty Rally” outside across the street in Grant Park while I was inside the venue watching the press conference.  Read more in her Illinois Review story including the large police presence watching these flag waving harmless law abiding patriots.  Former congressman Joe Walsh helped lead the rally outside.  Their  theme was “Save the American Worker.”
Inside the posh Chicago Club, the event was hosted by Exelon’s CEO John Rowe.  He was joined by Illinois Chamber of Commerce President Doug Whitley. They introduced a variety of  business leaders to discuss the moral, economic, and political aspects of reform.  They included Carol Segal, co-founder of Crate and Barrel, Doug Oberhelman, CEO of Caterpillar, Sue Gin, CEO Flying Food Group, Joe Green, CEO of FWD,US, and Sergio Suarez, CEO of NAIMA.
Next up, a variety of Illinois politicians and candidates spoke. They were all seated together in the second row (see photo).  Each spoke for about two minutes including Dennis Hastert, Jim Edgar, Christine Radogno, Jim Durkin, Judy Barr Topinka, Tom Cross, Jim Oberweis, and Bruce Rauner.  Appearing on video were Aaron Schock and Adam Kinzinger.  Also up front introduced but not speaking were Bob Dold, Darlene Senger, and Evelyn Sanguinetti.  It was a “Who’s Who” of Illinois Republicans past and present.
I don’t believe the words “amnesty, open borders, or  illegal  alien” were ever used in this 60 minute presentation.  One reporter next to me called it a “dog and pony” show.  Others felt this was pandering by the Republican party without any serious legislative plan which would have to have democratic support.  It was obviously well organized and well orchestrated. Over 100 media people attended yet there was no mention on the 10:00 pm local news on 2,5, or 7 but I did see it several times on CLTV.  There was a fair amount of print and internet coverage.  The Blackhawks, Chicago Cubs 100th anniversary, and the surge of violence on Chicago Streets seemed to dominate most local news.
Both Jim Oberweis and Bruce Rauner spoke of “pro-reform” yet seemed to hedge on specifics.  Oberweis received the least applause after his remarks. In my opinion, much of this was all about votes.  In fact it was much about “Hispanic votes.”
Two hours before this event downtown, I attended another conservative event at a private catholic school in Wicker Park (3 miles away). Presidential hopeful Kentucky Senator Rand Paul spoke to 300 conservatives on school choice sponsored by the Illinois Policy Institute.  There were virtually no republicans who attended both events other than me.  Perhaps this shows the divide in the Illinois Republican Party between conservatives (some call the tea party) and the establishment.
Whether you call these residents illegal aliens or undocumented workers, most would agree that something should be done with some type of reform.  The question is what to do. With an election approaching in November, politicians are jumping on the band wagon to win hearts and minds, then ultimately votes. The election is Tuesday, November 4, 2014.

Story and photos by Mark Weyermuller


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(L-R) Oberweis, Durkin, Cross, Rauner, Topinka, Edgar, Hastert

By Nancy Thorner and Mark Weyermuller – 

On Wednesday the Illinois Business Immigration Coalition hosted a discussion about immigration reform at the Chicago Club.

Republican leaders shared their support for reform, including former U.S. House Speaker Denny Hastert, former Illinois Governor Jim Edgar, State Senator Christine Radogno, State Representative Jim Durkin, State Comptroller Judy Barr Topinka, State Rep. Tom Cross, State Senator Jim Oberweis, and ILGOP gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner.

Outside, a group opposing amnesty, protested the meeting.

One of the protesters was radio personality Joe Walsh, who criticized the event at “that fancy club across the street,” saying those who would be speaking are the “elite who were trying to push down all of our throat amnesty for illegals.”

“There are far too many elitists inside the Republican Party,” Walsh shouted into a bullhorn. Democrats are pushing for the legalization of 16-22 million illegal immigrants because ‘they are their voters,'” Walsh said.

Inside the Club, both Jim Oberweis and Bruce Rauner spoke of being “pro-reform,” yet hedged on specifics.

With Chicago Police on hand, Rosanna Pulido of the Illinois Minuteman Project – who was an avid fan of Jim Oberweis in 2002 – urged protesters to stand up for American jobs. Other speakers included Rick Belsada of the Chicago Minutemen Project, Susan Tully as National Field Director of FAIR, David A. Dewar of

Ms. Pulido indicated how outrageous it was for Republican millionaires and corporate CEOs to be lobbying for amnesty to give work visas to illegal aliens when Chicago-area unemployment stood at 9 percent and twenty million Americans could not find a job. “We do not need more workers with such a dismal unemployment rate?  What we need is for Republican candidates to support the Republican platform!” Pulido said.

Joe Walsh, a former U.S. congressman in the 10th District defeated by Tammy Duckworth in 2012, remarked Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner is pushing for amnesty, in contrast to grassroots America. Walsh warned Boehner not to “sell us down the river” like the Democrats have.

Said Walsh: “If elected politicians don’t stand up for the rule of law what good are they?” Walsh believes “in his bones” that should amnesty be granted, a third party will be formed the day after.

Paul McKinley, an African American that lost the election to replace Jesse Jackson Jr, remarked that Chicago is “the Murder Capitol of the World” and as a “Sanctuary City.” “If we break the law we go to jail; for illegals there is no jail time,” McKinley said.

Others attending the protest were 9th CD candidate David Earl Williams III, Carl Segvich, GOP Illinois’ David Diersen, and talk show host Bill Kelly.

Anti-Amnesty Rally 012  Anti-Amnesty Rally 015

1356169943776171955By Nancy Thorner and Mark Weyermuller – 

What gifts could one expect under the “free market system” tree?  Our guess might be prosperity and freedom for all.

Last Tuesday, the Illinois Policy Institute hosted its annual “Gifts of the Free Market” party. This year’s festivities featured speaker Craig Zucker, a serial entrepreneur from Ohio and former co-founder and CEO of Maxfield and Oberton, makers of Buckyballs.

Buckyballs was named 2010’s “Best Desk Toy of the Year” by the Rolling Stone Magazine. Three years later, Zucker’s powerful ball-shaped toy magnets are banned from sale by government agencies.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission took action against Zucker’s product shortly after Buckyballs became a rage for adults. Within a matter of months the business, which brought in $18 million at one point, was destroyed – with no due process.

Maxfield & Oberton was the small company behind Buckyballs (and Buckycubes), an office toy that became an Internet sensation in 2009.  The company sold millions of Buckyballs unites under the watchful eye of the CPSC before the product was banned.

From the beginning, Buckyballs were marketed and sold to adults.  Each set was wrapped with five conspicuous warnings to keep the product away from children.

Zucker and his company worked with the CPSC over its expressed concern that children could swallow the powerful magnets.  Maxfield & Oberton even ran a pubic-education campaign to alert consumers of the potential danger. When the age of a child thought safe to use a product increased from 13 to 14, Maxfield & Oberton changed the child warning label accordingly.

In July of 2012, the CPSC sued Maxfield & Oberton thereby forcing a full recall of Buckyballs. According to the CPSC, Buckyballs were deemed defective in that unintended users could misuse it and suffer injuries.

In December of 2012 Maxfield & Oberton shuttered and dissolved.  A “Save Our Balls” campaign was launched to keep the business alive, but failed to raise enough to pay legal bills.

In February of 2103, the CPSC invoked a little-used legal doctrine to try to force Craig Zucker, as former chief executive of Maxfield & Oberton, to pay an estimated $57 million in costs related to the recall. The $57 million amount exceeded what the company ever made in sales.

Not willing to allow himself to be used by the government in a ruling which could ultimately have severe and far-reaching consequences for the future of American businesses and consumers, Zucker filed a lawsuit in October this year in the U.S. District Court of Maryland to block the CPSC from seeking damages against him.

In an attempt to pay his legal costs, Zucker set up the Unite We Ball website to “support the legal battle of one individual against government absurdity overreach retaliation regulators and stand up for the rights of all Americans.”

Several products for sale at ““, including “Liberty Balls, Founding Balls, Balls of Right, and UWB merchandise,  including tees. The items range from $10 to $40.  100% of the profits go towards the legal fees of fighting the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s absurd case against Buckyballs and Craig Zucker.

Many free marketers see Zucker’s case as one to watch for the country’s free market future. If government wins over Zucker, a precedent will be set for agencies to go after an entrepreneur or officer of a company and hold him or her personally responsible for his or her company’s actions, even if no laws or regulations were violated.

The free market system allows a vibrant entrepreneurial environment to flourish and create a force for good, as first protected and promoted by our Founding Fathers. Free enterprise must be allowed to survive and flourish for her to remain strong and competitive, for it is freedom that allows the human spirit to soar to accomplish, invent, and create new products unhindered by government regulations and control.

At this time of year and beyond, courageous Americans like Craig Zucker should be celebrated and cheered on to stand against this nation’s direction toward centralized government and nanny statism.


Illinois Policy Institute’s Jonathan Greenberg, Ex Vice Pres Kristina Rasmussen and Buckyballs creator Craig Zucker