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HomeIllinois NewsAmid statewide corruption probe, IL Senate President announces retirement

Amid statewide corruption probe, IL Senate President announces retirement



Screen Shot 2019-11-15 at 9.04.00 AMSPRINGFIELD – Just as the Illinois Senate adjourned from its last veto session for 2019 Thursday, the buzz started that Senate President John Cullerton had decided to retire. Before long, the 70 year old Chicago Democrat, who has been in the Illinois General Assembly for 41 years, confirmed the rumors.

After serving as Senate President for 11 years, Cullerton decided he wanted to "spend more time with his family." In a statement, Cullerton said: 

I’m ready to embark on a new course. I’ve been promising my wife, Pam that I would retire:

  • after 39 years of duty …
  • when I turn 70 …
  • when we had a Democratic governor …

So now, after 41 years in the legislature and 40 years of marriage, I’m finally going to live up to my promise to retire.

Springfield insiders were taken off guard. 

Questions arose immediately.

Did this sudden announcement have anything to do with at least three of the state senators in Cullerton's Democrat caucus being investigated by the feds? Reports are saying nearly 30 political insiders and/or businesses have been questioned in the feds' ongoing anti-corruption probe. Several lawmakers' and political insiders' offices have reportedly been raided as part of an ongoing anti-corruption probe. 

Cullerton's retirement raised a lot of questions for most observers. But Senate Republican Leader Bill Brady gushed in his response to Cullerton's announcement, saying the Senate will be "forever better" as a result of Cullerton's leadership. 

Senate President John Cullerton has led the Illinois Senate with honor and distinction, and our Chamber will forever be better as a result. I have known John for many years, but it has been during the last two years in my role as Senate Republican Leader that I have seen first-hand the integrity, honesty, and humor that he brought to the responsibilities his office entailed.

Cullerton "always put the people of Illinois first," Brady went on to say.

We may not have always agreed on how best to address the issues facing the state, but there can be no denying John always put the people of Illinois first. I wish the Senate President and his family well as he begins this next chapter in his life. I am grateful to have had him as a colleague, and I will forever be grateful to call him my friend.

Illinois Policy Institute wasn't as gracious. In their report of Cullerton's retirement announcement, the Policy Institute reviewed what's going on statewide – as the Chicago and Springfield media just couldn't bring themselves to recall how high up the feds' probe is going: 

Cullerton's retirement comes amid one of the most wide-ranging federal corruption investigations in state history, which has ensnared three Democratic state senators with leadership positions: Tom Cullerton, Martin Sandoval and Terry Link. Nearly 30 politically connected individuals and businesses across Illinois have been questioned, targeted, investigated, arrested, indicted or convicted as part of law enforcement’s anti-corruption activity in Illinois in 2019.

Federal authorities hit Cullerton’s distant cousin and fellow state Sen. Tom Cullerton, D-Villa Park, with a 41-count indictment in August. He allegedly pocketed around $275,000 in salary and health benefits from the Teamsters for a do-nothing job. He pleaded not guilty. Following the indictment, Senate President Cullerton removed Tom as chairman of the Senate Labor Committee and named him chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.

In September, the FBI and IRS raided the home and government offices of state Sen. Martin Sandoval, D-Chicago. Sandoval was Cullerton’s pick to chair the influential Senate Transportation Committee, where he pushed for Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s record $45 billion capital bill and gas tax hike earlier this year.

Finally, state Sen. Terry Link, D-Gurnee – an assistant majority leader – is believed to have worn a wire in a case against state Rep. Luis Arroyo, D-Chicago. Arroyo was arrested on one count of bribery of a state official in October. The Arroyo complaint says an unnamed state senator became a federal source in 2016, but was dropped after authorities received evidence of the senator filing false income tax returns. The state senator is now working with federal officials with hopes of receiving a reduced sentence, according to the complaint. Link denies he is the state senator involved in the Arroyo charges.

And of course, the question now is who will be the next second most powerful lawmaker to House Speaker Mike Madigan? That will be determined when the General Assembly returns in January. 


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