CHICAGO (CBS) — Cook County Democratic Party leaders have asked Ald. Ed Burke and former state Rep. Luis Arroyo to step down from their posts as ward committeemen, as both face federal corruption charges.
Burke has been the Democratic committeeman for the 14th Ward since 1968, and Arroyo has been the 36th Ward committeeman since 2016.
On Monday, the Cook County Democratic Party executive committee voted unanimously to send letters to Arroyo and Burke, asking them to step down because they have been charged with federal crimes.
Burke has been indicted on racketeering and bribery charges, accused of trying to extort executives seeking city remodeling permits. He has pleaded not guilty.
In January, after Burke was first charged, Cook County Democratic Party Chair Toni Preckwinkle removed Burke as chair of the party’s judicial slating committee, and called on him to resign as alderman and committeeman. It wasn’t until Monday, however, that the party’s executive committee formally asked Burke to step down as committeeman.
Arroyo resigned from the Illinois House on Friday, four days after he was arrested on federal charges accusing him of bribing a state senator. Arroyo remains the 36th Ward committeeman, which puts him in the position to pick his replacement in the House.
With the 3rd District seat in the Illinois House now vacant, Democratic committeemen from the district are empowered to select Arroyo’s replacement until the 2020 election. If he does not step down as 36th Ward committeeman, he would have the largest share of votes in picking his successor.
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.