Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker wouldn’t say Monday if Michael Madigan should step down as House Speaker, or even as chairman of the state’s Democratic Party, despite Madigan being named in a sweeping federal corruption probe.
The governor answered questions Monday as state lawmakers returned to Springfield for the start of fall session amid a sweeping federal probe into corruption.
In Chicago Monday, state Rep. Luis Arroyo, D-Chicago, is expected to appear in federal court after he was arrested on corruption charges, the Chicago Tribune reported. That nature of the charges wasn’t immediately clear.
Over the summer, federal agents raided the offices of state Sen. Martin Sandoval, D-Cicero, including his capital office in Springfield. A search warrant showed agents were looking for information related to possible kickback schemes and involved industries ranging from energy to gambling, transportation and red-light camera operations. Sandoval has not been charged with a crime.
Earlier this month, Chicago public radio WBEZ reported Madigan’s name was included in a subpoena sent to the City Club of Chicago. Federal agents also raided the offices of several people associated with Madigan, including a former campaign worker and a former ComEd lobbyist. The FBI also recorded a conversation between Madigan, then-Chicago Ald. Danny Solis, and a businessman and a developer. Madigan was pitching his private law firm’s tax appeal services to the businessman, according to media reports. Madigan has not been charged with a crime.
Asked if Madigan should step down from his leadership positions, Pritzker said he wouldn’t tolerate corruption or deception.
“The kinds of things that we’ve seen that apparently have been now called out and even raids have taken place,” the governor said.
Pritzker said his position on Madigan was different than Sandoval. After the Sandoval raid, Pritzker asked the senator to step down from his committee leadership position.
“[The federal investigators] seem to be directly about transportation,” Pritzker said. “[Sandoval] was chairman of the Transportation Committee. I didn’t ask him to step down from his position as senator, but he should have and did step down as chairman of the transportation committee while we find out the rest of the story.”
Also this summer, prosecutors filed charges against State Sen. Tom Cullerton, D-Villa Park, for allegedly embezzling money from the Teamsters union. Cullerton has pleaded not guilty.
Pritzker also talked about how Cullerton was transferred from heading the Labor Committee to the Veterans Affairs Committee after the indictment. That move allowed Cullerton to keep an extra stipend.
“I’ve been very clear that when there is direct action taken, very specifically, then that is the time in which I’ve been willing to come forward and will always be to call out the kind of corruption that we’re hearing about,” the governor said.