State Rep. Luis Arroyo, D-Chicago, facing federal corruption and possible expulsion from the Illinois House, resigned from office.
“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," House Speaker Michael Madigan said in a statement.
A House hearing scheduled Friday to start investigating the allegations against him was canceled.
Last week, Arroyo was arrested on a charge he bribed a sitting state Senator on behalf of a gambling interest. The federal indictment against him said the state Senator was a cooperating witness and was wearing a wire.
Prosecutors said Arroyo was captured on the surreptitious recording giving the unnamed Senator $2,500 with the expectation that monthly $2,500 payments would follow.
"I have decided that continuing my public service would cause a distraction to this august body," Arroyo wrote in a resignation letter to Madigan. "But more importantly, it was my sincere desire to spare the members of this body from having to take such a difficult vote at a time when you are all running for re-election considering how well we have all worked together."
After the federal indictment, House leadership from both parties demanded Arroyo resign. Leaders then created a House Special Investigations Committee, which could have recommended Arroyo be expelled him from office. He resigned Friday, hours before the committee was set to meet Friday. The committee was subsequently canceled.
"These allegations are beyond extraordinary, which is why it called for the creation of the Special Investigative Committee and possible disciplinary action. While every circumstance will not require this process, the egregiousness of these particular allegations and the evidence demanded that every effort be taken to restore the public’s trust," Madigan said. "Although the disciplinary process will no longer proceed, there is still a focus on strengthening our laws to prevent this unacceptable conduct. I look forward to working with the governor and other legislative leaders to look for ways in which we can continue to improve the safeguards we have today."
Arroyo had been in office since 2006. He had risen to the rank of Assistant Majority Leader. His name had been stripped of that title on the Illinois House Officers list.
In his resignation letter, Arroyo praised Gov. J.B. Pritzker's work on the most recent state budget and the $45 billion statewide infrastructure plan. Arroyo also thanked Madigan. In the letter, Arroyo also encouraged lawmakers who were no longer "effective" to retire.
"I would like to add that you should all keep in mind that public service should be for a duration of time wherein you are an effective member of the body," Arroyo wrote in the resignation letter. "Once you have gone beyond your period of peak effectiveness, you should really call it a day and retire while you can still enjoy the later years in your life."
Messages seeking comment from Arroyo weren't immediately returned.
"The criminal complaint against Rep. Arroyo has shaken any trust the public had left in the General Assembly," state Rep. Tom Demmer, R-Dixon, said in a statement. "In an effort to begin restoring public confidence, Senator Terry Link needs to step down immediately from his position on the Legislative Ethics Commission while this widespread federal investigation continues."
Both the Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Tribune have identified state Sen. Terry Link as a cooperating witness in the case. Link has denied it.
A footnote contained in the federal indictment said Arroyo was recorded offering the $2,500 bribe by a state senator who had been cooperating with the FBI since 2016. That lawmaker, who was identified only as "Cooperating Witness 1" in the indictment, had been working with the FBI until Nov. 3, 2016. At that point, he was "closed as a source" because FBI agents learned he had filed false income tax returns. Then, after admitting to the false tax returns, the Senator began working with the FBI again in a bid to get a reduced sentence on any tax charges he could face.
Arroyo’s case is one of several areas federal investigators are probing. In September, federal investigators raided the statehouse offices of state Sen. Martin Sandoval, D-Cicero. They were looking for evidence of possible kickback schemes related to industries such as energy, transportation and gambling. Sandoval has not been charged with a crime. Earlier this summer, state Sen. Tom Cullerton, D-Villa Park, was charged with embezzling from a labor union. He has pleaded not guilty.
Cullerton had his chairman position on the Senate Labor Committee transferred to the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, a move that allows him to keep his stipend. Sandoval stepped down as chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee. Both Cullerton and Sandoval remain in office. It’s unclear what, if any, steps the Senate will take to investigate and possible expulsion from the Senate.