Farnham resigns legislative seat after federal raid

State Rep. Keith Farnham resigned his legislative seat Wednesday, just days after federal officials searched the Elgin Democrat's home and office.

A one-sentence letter released to Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan gave no reason for the resignation, but Farnham cited “serious health issues” in a statement released shortly after.

Farnham was not present in Springfield for lawmakers' session Wednesday.

“This is to notify you that, effective immediately, I hereby resign my position as representative in the General Assembly for the 43rd Representative District of the state of Illinois,” the letter said.

Farnham has said nothing about the search by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations officials last week, and federal authorities haven't said what they were looking for.

In his statement, Farnham said, “I have been battling serious health issues for a number of years and the coming months will require my full attention.”

Farnham's Elgin office was dark Tuesday, and a woman answering an intercom at his home apartment said he was unavailable. He has not returned numerous calls for comment.

In the statement, Farnham said he also will withdraw as his party's nominee for re-election to the Illinois House, a position he won Tuesday as he had no opponent in the primary election. No Republican has filed to run for the seat, but local party leaders could appoint a candidate in the coming months.

Now, local Democratic Party leaders from Farnham's district can cast a weighted vote to appoint someone to fill the remainder of Farnham's term.

Kane County Democratic Party Chairman Mark Guethle said the local leaders also have 30 days to replace Farnham on the Nov. 4 ballot.

“We will seek someone with both experience and a working knowledge of Springfield,” he said, adding he would prefer someone who would both serve out the rest of Farnham's term and run in the election.

Guethle said he will confer with fellow party leaders about potential candidates. However, he specifically mentioned Kane County Board member Cristina Castro as a good fit.

Castro said Farnham's resignation is “a very sad day for the district.” She is interested in the seat, but she'll await a full deliberation of the party leadership before making any plans to head to Springfield.

“I hope my work on the county board has demonstrated my abilities to be a voice for the district as well as being able to reach across the aisle and work with people from another party. If I'm selected, I'm going to bring the same vigor and tenacity to Springfield.”

Guethle said Farnham has not had contact with party officials in recent days.

“I really haven't had much contact with him at all,” Guethle said. “Keith came in a several years ago, and he's always kind of kept to himself. But he's been elected twice, so obviously he has people who support him.”

Farnham, a former commercial painter, defeated Ruth Munson in both 2008 and 2010 to win a seat in the Illinois House.

The mandatory economic interest statement Farnham filed with the state last year shows no business interests he's connected to. He reported the Niagara Foundation and the Chicago Turkish American Chamber of Commerce paid for him to go to a trip to Turkey in 2012.

Carpentersville Village President Ed Ritter said Farnham was very responsive to the village's needs.

Not only did Farnham help Carpentersville secure money to complete minor road projects, but he also was a good sounding board, Ritter said.

“We will really miss Keith,” Ritter said. “He's done a lot for Carpentersville and I wish him the best.”

• Daily Herald staff writers Elena Ferrarin and Lenore Adkins contributed to this report.

Legislator's home, office searched

Keith Farnham
  State Rep. Keith Farnham, an Elgin Democrat, didn't show at lawmakers' session in Springfield Wednesday. Zachary White/
  Two Secretary of State police officers walk in the hallway by state Rep. Keith Farnham's Springfield office last Friday. Zachary White/
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