CHICAGO (CBS) — Another powerful Springfield Democrat has been targeted by the feds – this time, agents arrested Rep. Luis Arroyo (D-Chicago) on accusations of bribing a state senator.
There was just one problem – that state senator was working as an informant.
Arroyo, 65, is charged with one count of federal program bribery, according to a criminal complaint and affidavit filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago. Arroyo made an initial court appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Maria Valdez and was ordered released on a personal recognizance bond.
According to the complaint, on Aug. 2, 2019, Arroyo offered to pay $2,500 per month to an Illinois state senator in return for the senator’s support of sweepstakes-related legislation that would benefit one of Arroyo’s lobbying clients.
On Aug. 22, 2019, Arroyo met with the senator at a restaurant in Skokie and provided him a check for $2,500 as an initial payment, with the expectation that additional payments would be made for the next six to 12 months, the complaint states.
According to the FBI, the meeting was being recorded, and Arroyo told the senator “I’m going to give you this here. This is, this is, this is the jackpot.”
Federal documents only refer to the state senator involved in the conversation as “Cooperating Witness 1.” But that witness has been identified by multiple news outlets as state Sen. Terry Link (D-Vernon Hills), who is the assistant majority leader in the Illinois State Senate.
Link allegedly recorded the conversation for the feds. He expects to be charged with filing false income tax returns in 2016 and is apparently cooperating in the hopes of a lighter punishment.
Arroyo ducked reporters Monday as he left his initial court appearance.
Following his arrest, consternation came from both sides of the aisle in Springfield.
“So today begins the process of cleaning up this chamber,” said Illinois House Republican Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs). “The actions today go to the heart of public trust in state government.”
Meanwhile, Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan called on Arroyo to step down.
“The charges filed against Representative Arroyo are very serious. We have already contacted Representative Arroyo’s counsel to determine whether he will resign as state representative. I urge Representative Arroyo to resign from the House of Representatives, effective immediately. If he refuses, I will take the necessary steps to begin the process to remove him from office,” Madigan said in a statement. “Additionally, I have instructed my staff to begin bringing together stakeholders and experts to closely examine our ethics and lobbying laws and find ways to strengthen existing law.”
If Arroyo does not step down, the House has the authority to expel him by a two-thirds vote. However, he could still be re-elected, and could not be expelled again for the same reason, according to Illinois House rules.
Arroyo is a Democrat from the 3rd District in Chicago, and has been a state representative since 2006. He served as an assistant majority leader in the 100th General Assembly in 2017 and 2018, but is no longer in a leadership position, according to the speaker’s office.
If convicted, Arroyo could face up to 10 years in prison.
Arroyo is the third elected official in Chicago to be charged in a public corruption case this year. Ald. Edward Burke (14th) pleaded not guilty in June to a federal indictment charging him with racketeering, bribery, and attempted extortion, and Illinois State Sen. Thomas Cullerton (D-Villa Park) pleaded not guilty in august to federal embezzlement charges, alleging he took more than $250,000 in salary and benefits from a ghost payrolling job with the Teamsters.
Federal authorities also raided the home and office of Illinois State Sen. Martin Sandoval last month. Just days later, the FBI also raided the village offices in southwest suburban McCook and Lyons. In June, the FBI also raided the ward office of Ald. Carrie Austin (34th). No charges have been filed in those investigations.
CBS 2’s Vince Gerasole contributed to this report.