Moves come after Chicago lawmaker arrested on federal bribery charge
By PETER HANCOCK
Capitol News Illinois
SPRINGFIELD – The top two leaders in the Illinois House on Monday called on state Rep. Luis Arroyo to either resign immediately or face disciplinary proceedings that could lead to his removal from office.
House Speaker Michael Madigan and House Republican Leader Jim Durkin issued those calls separately a few hours after Arroyo, a Chicago Democrat, appeared in federal court in Chicago on a federal bribery charge.
“Today begins a process of cleaning up this chamber,” Durkin said during a midday news conference. “I hope that Representative Arroyo hears what I have to say, because I am serious, my caucus is serious and I believe that his members will be serious that this is not tolerable.”
Arroyo, 65, made an initial appearance Monday morning before U.S. Magistrate Judge Maria Valdez and was released on a personal recognizance bond. If convicted, he could face up to 10 years in prison.
According to a statement from U.S. Attorney John R. Lausch, Arroyo is charged with one count of “offering a bribe to a fellow state lawmaker in an effort to influence and reward the lawmaker for supporting legislation that would benefit Arroyo’s private lobbying client.”
In addition to serving in the General Assembly, Arroyo owns a lobbying firm, Spartacus 3 LLC, according to his most recent statement of interest.
The complaint alleges that on Aug. 2, Arroyo offered to pay an unnamed state senator $2,500 per month in exchange for the senator’s support of gambling legislation related to sweepstakes games. On Aug. 22, Arroyo met the senator at a Skokie restaurant and provided a check for an initial payment, a check made payable to another person in order to conceal the actual intent, Lausch’s office said.
Arroyo has served as chairman of the House Appropriations-Capital Committee, a panel that was instrumental in pushing through this year’s $45 billion capital improvements bill, which is partially funded through expanded gambling.
News of the charges against Arroyo rattled the Illinois Statehouse just as lawmakers were returning for the start of the fall veto session.
After a closed-door House Democrats caucus meeting Monday afternoon, Madigan handed out a written statement saying Arroyo had agreed to step down from his committee chairmanship, but he said he agreed with Durkin that Arroyo should resign immediately or face disciplinary proceedings.
“I urge Representative Arroyo to resign from the House of Representatives, effective immediately,” Madigan said in the statement. “If he refuses, I will take the necessary steps to begin the process to remove him from office.”
Madigan, who has served as speaker for all but two years since 1983, also said he plans to call in “stakeholders and experts” to re-examine the state’s ethics and lobbying laws, but he said he didn’t know why it isn’t already illegal in Illinois for the owner of a lobbying firm to serve as a lawmaker.
“I don’t know the answer to that question. That’s the type of thing that should be addressed by this group that we’re going to convene,” he said to a group of reporters Monday in the Capitol.
Arroyo is the second state lawmaker in recent months to be charged with crimes as a result of a broad-sweeping federal investigation into public corruption in the Chicago area. On Aug. 2, the same day Arroyo allegedly initiated his bribery scheme, state Sen. Tom Cullerton, of Villa Park, was indicted on 39 counts of embezzlement from a labor union that allegedly kept him on a shadow payroll.
In addition, in late September, federal agents executed a search warrant on Sen. Martin Sandoval’s home and offices, including his Statehouse office in Springfield. So far, Sandoval has not been charged with any crime.
Agents have also executed search warrants on some of Madigan’s close associates, and his name appears on federal subpoenas that were issued to the City Club of Chicago and ComEd, the state’s largest electric utility.
Madigan, however, denied Monday that he is the target of a federal investigation.
“I’m not a target of anything,” he said.