by Todd Feurer, CBS Chicago web producer
CHICAGO (CBS) — Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan on Monday told Cook County Democratic Party leaders not to allow former state Rep. Luis Arroyo to take part in choosing his replacement, after the Chicago Democrat resigned in disgrace following his arrest on federal bribery charges.
Arroyo resigned from the Illinois House on Nov. 1, four days after federal prosecutors charged him with bribing a state senator in exchange for the senator’s support of sweepstakes-related legislation that would benefit one of Arroyo’s lobbying clients.
However, Arroyo remains the Democratic committeeman for the 36th Ward in Chicago, despite a unanimous vote from the Cook County Democratic Party executive committee urging him to step down from his party post.
As the party’s 36th Ward committeeman, Arroyo has the largest share of votes in picking a successor to take his place until the 2020 election. According to published reports, Arroyo had sent a letter to other committeemen representing voters in the 3rd District of the Illinois House to schedule a meeting on Friday to vote on filling his old seat in the Illinois General Assembly.
Madigan, who also chairs the Illinois Democratic Party, wants to make sure Arroyo doesn’t get a vote in naming his successor, and sent the same committeemen a letter asking them to keep Arroyo out of the process.
“Today, I wrote to the Democratic committee members responsible for filling the vacancy in the 3rd Representative District, and asked them to conduct their process without the participation of the 36th Ward. Any process that includes the participation of the 36th Ward – whether by direct vote or by proxy – would call the legitimacy of the appointment into question, and the qualifications of their candidate would be challenged by the full Illinois House of Representatives.”
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 in question.