by Todd Feurer, CBS Chicago web producer
CHICAGO (CBS) — State Rep. Luis Arroyo, a Chicago Democrat, has resigned from the Illinois House, four days after he was arrested on federal charges accusing him of bribing a state senator.
Arroyo’s resignation comes just hours before a special House investigative committee hearing had been scheduled to begin the process of possibly removing him from office.
“It has been a sincere honor and a true privilege to serve the people of the state of Illinois as its State Representative from the Third District. In doing so I took great pride in being a strong independent voice from my constituents,” Arroyo wrote in his letter to Madigan.
Madigan’s office confirmed the committee hearing on Arroyo’s case was canceled after his resignation.
“Representative Arroyo’s resignation shouldn’t distract from the fact that the allegations contained in this criminal complaint go beyond anything that could be considered a lapse of judgment or minor indiscretion. These allegations are beyond extraordinary,” Madigan said in a statement.
Arroyo, 65, has been charged with one count of federal program bribery. Federal prosecutors said he was caught on tape paying a $2,500 bribe to a state senator who was wearing a wire for the feds.
The feds say Arroyo had agreed to pay the senator $2,500 a month for up to a year in exchange for the senator’s support of sweepstakes-related legislation that would benefit one of Arroyo’s lobbying clients.
The charges against Arroyo do not identify the senator involved in the case, identifying the lawmaker only 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.
According to the charges, on Aug. 2, Arroyo offered to pay the senator $2,500 a month for his support for the sweepstakes legislation. On Aug. 22, the two met at a restaurant in Skokie, and Arroyo gave the senator a check for $2,500 as an initial payment, with the expectation Arroyo would continue paying $2,500 a month for 6 to 12 months.
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.
Link has publicly denied he is the state senator involved in the case.
Meantime, Madigan said he will work with the governor and other legislative leaders to improve the state’s ethics laws.