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John Cullerton won’t say if feds have contacted him about Tom Cullerton

Monday, Aug 12, 2019

* Sun-Times

State Sen. Tom Cullerton has been removed as chair of the Illinois Senate’s Labor Committee, just days after being charged in a federal indictment for allegedly being a ghost payroller for the Teamsters — to the tune of $188,000 in salary benefits and $64,000 in health and pension contributions.

Cullerton will instead chair the Senate’s Veterans Affairs Committee — a decision made by Illinois Senate President John Cullerton, who is a cousin of the Villa Park Democrat. Tom Cullerton will still serve as a member the Labor Committee, however.

The shift in leadership posts ensures Tom Cullerton won’t lose any legislative compensation.

“After a discussion, it was a mutual decision that this was for the best,” John Patterson, spokesman for Senate President John Cullerton said in a statement.

* Sun-Times

A federal investigation that resulted in an embezzlement and conspiracy indictment announced Aug. 2 against state Sen. Thomas Cullerton hasn’t cost him the support of Illinois Senate President John Cullerton, a distant cousin.

In his first public comments since the charges were announced, John Cullerton told the Chicago Sun-Times the Villa Park Democrat remains “a valued member of the caucus and a friend of mine” — and declined to say whether federal prosecutors have contacted him.

Nor has the investigation turned off the campaign-money spigot for the now-indicted senator.

Accused of taking $188,000 in salary and other pay plus additional benefits from the Teamsters union despite “doing little or no work,” Thomas Cullerton has raised about $30,000 in campaign contributions since the first news report, in April, that he was under investigation, campaign-finance records show. Dozens of people and political groups have made contributions since WBEZ Chicago broke the news the U.S. attorney’s office in Chicago had subpoenaed the Illinois Senate for Thomas Cullerton’s legislative attendance and travel records, among other documents. […]

Asked whether he has been contacted or interviewed by federal agents or prosecutors investigating his cousin in the widening corruption probe that ensnared Chicago’s former top Teamsters union official, John Coli Sr., who is now cooperating with prosecutors, John Cullerton said: “I just don’t want to answer that question … I don’t think it’d be good to talk about the case at all because it’s pending. I just don’t want to go there.”

* ILGOP…

“Sen. Cullerton must resign immediately. He may be hoping Illinoisans will forget about his criminal behavior, but the people of this state are fed up with corruption at the hands of its public officials. The self dealing must end now if citizens are ever going to put trust in their government to work for them and not the political ruling class.” -Tim Schneider

Illinois Republican Party Chairman Tim Schneider called on Sen. Tom Cullerton to resign last week after it was reported by the Chicago Tribune that the Democrat legislator has been indicted by federal prosecutors. Since then, it’s been business as usual for Illinois Democrats as Cullerton will be arraigned in US District Court this Wednesday - Governor’s Day at the State Fair.

Chairman Schneider is shocked at the silence from Illinois Democrats and especially the complimentary words of Senate President John Cullerton, who called his indicted cousin ‘a valued member of the caucus and a friend of mine’. President Cullerton didn’t just stop at nice words, he also cut Sen. Tom Cullerton a sweet deal, removing him from one committee chairmanship and giving him another - keeping in place the $10,500 pay hike chairs receive.

Schneider responded, saying, “The shamelessness of Senate President Cullerton’s words and actions are a slap in the face to every Illinoisan. Embezzlement and conspiracy come with jail time for regular people. For a Democrat senator, those crimes come with a new committee chairmanship and praise. Are there any Illinois Democrats who will speak up and do the right thing?”

…Adding… Hot off the presses…

Status quo.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

29 Comments »
  1. - Anon E Moose - Monday, Aug 12, 19 @ 9:51 am:

    It must be opposite day because I agree with the ILGOP on this one. Resign and resign now.


  2. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Aug 12, 19 @ 10:00 am:

    ===He may be hoping Illinoisans will forget about his criminal behavior…===

    Yeah, I’m gonna stop ya there.

    If the ILGOP believes there isn’t a criminal justice system of innocent until proven guilty, then this is exactly the thing Trumpkins, and before Raunerites want… a system not focused on law, but in winning a political point.

    “The ILGOP finds these allegations of possible corruption disturbing and not within the spirit of public service. We hold elected officials to a higher standard and while Mr. Cullerton will get his chance to defend himself against these serious charges against him, he should choose to step down for the betterment of the state and his district”

    Is that too hard?

    Also why is the Raunerite Schneider still at the state party?

    Rauner failed. Schneider failed.

    74-40-8

    The Democrats, arguably, have never been stronger… thanks to Bruce and Diana Rauner, then we get ridiculous statements, hyperbole to the rule of law, and anger not leadership to get the Republican Party back from Raunerites and Trumpkins.

    This statement is so tone deaf… it should worry those wanting to move on from Raunerism.


  3. - Anon E Moose - Monday, Aug 12, 19 @ 10:06 am:

    How about this? If the US Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois obtains an indictment against you and you’re a politician in Illinois, resign. Defend yourself all you want, but resign. You cannot serve your constituents at that point — Republican or Democrat.


  4. - Keyrock - Monday, Aug 12, 19 @ 10:17 am:

    If Sen. Tom Cullerton doesn’t want to resign, he should not be a committee chair. And, given the allegations, he has no business remaining on the Labor Committee as a member.

    President Cullerton has made a serious mistake here, both ethically and politically. If more charges are coming from the U.S. Attorney’s office, this will look even worse.


  5. - DIstant watcher - Monday, Aug 12, 19 @ 10:19 am:

    @ Anon E Moose: So the USAtty gets to decide who can serve the public? Yeah, right.

    The case against Tom Cullerton is going to be hard to prove. It’s essentially a ghost payrolling charge. In the public sector, for the last dozen years employees have been required to certify their hours everytime they get paid. In the private sector, where this allegedly took place, that requirement doesn’t exist. The G is going to rely on somebody else to prove that Culllerton didn’t do any work, and if that person is a indicted-and-pled-guilty union official, who’s hoping for leniency by serving up someone else, there are going to be serious credibility issues.

    The USAtty does good work sometimes, but in this instance there’s good reason for waiting it out.


  6. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Aug 12, 19 @ 10:20 am:

    ===Schneider responded, saying, “The shamelessness of Senate President Cullerton’s words and actions are a slap in the face to every Illinoisan. Embezzlement and conspiracy come with jail time for regular people. …===

    Once they are convicted, they all are. That’s how it works.

    It works… conviction… then sentencing.

    It’s no wonder Raunerism gave the brand 44-19-0…

    There are more ILDems in the Illinois House than all Raunerites elected to serve the state in 2 of the three branches… and this is what Republicans get…

    “Schneider responded, saying, ‘The shamelessness of Senate President Cullerton’s words and actions are a slap in the face to every Illinoisan. Embezzlement and conspiracy come with jail time for regular people.’… “

    It’s like Raunerites think they understand voters… by flat out ignoring the judicial process.

    Oh, don’t get me wrong, I understand harsh biased partisanship… but ignoring the rule of law and how that works to be partisan, that’s how you get… 44-19-0


  7. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Aug 12, 19 @ 10:25 am:

    ===The case against Tom Cullerton is going to be hard to prove.===

    Tell that to the witness Coli, the time sheets, the calendar.

    ===In the public sector, for the last dozen years employees have been required to certify their hours everytime they get paid.===

    The question isn’t the state pay, but the union pay. Keep up.

    ===The G is going to rely on somebody else to prove that Culllerton didn’t do any work, and if that person is a indicted-and-pled-guilty union official, who’s hoping for leniency by serving up someone else, there are going to be serious credibility issues.===

    While true, the defense will have to knock down calendars, payments, state time sheets, and who knows what else Coli has beyond his word.

    Full disclosure, I like Sen. Cullerton. I do.

    An indictment is not conviction, and as the process plays out, we’re going to learn a great deal.


  8. - Rich Miller - Monday, Aug 12, 19 @ 10:32 am:

    ===The G is going to rely on somebody else to prove that Culllerton didn’t do any work, and if that person is a indicted-and-pled-guilty union official===

    If TC did indeed falsify union time cards, they don’t need Coli’s testimony. Each falsification is a federal offense. In this instance, time cards can be easily compared to session attendance, voting records, campaign social media posts, etc.

    If the feds have falsified time cards, it’s open and shut.


  9. - @misterjayem - Monday, Aug 12, 19 @ 10:33 am:

    “the people of this state are fed up with corruption at the hands of its public officials”

    The GOP’s shock and outrage might land a little harder if the head of their party weren’t jabbering about a commutation or pardon for Rod Blagojevich.

    – MrJM


  10. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Aug 12, 19 @ 10:37 am:

    ===falsify union time cards===

    Paired with this…

    ===…easily compared to session attendance, voting records, campaign social media posts, etc.===

    Paperwork cases that Coli will certify as “not mistakes but deliberate”, the calendar and certifying state work works against the paperwork that may exist.

    This isn’t one rolling on another. There could be the paper trail far more damaging.


  11. - Roman - Monday, Aug 12, 19 @ 10:37 am:

    == It’s essentially a ghost payrolling charge. ==

    True, and to the best of my knowledge, the first Illinois ghost payrolling gig that doesn’t involve a government job. He’s charged under an obscure labor racketeering law that only applies to unions engaged in interstate commerce.

    It’s gotta drive him crazy to look around the GA and see colleagues who pick up checks for doing “little or no work” for law firms or politically connected businesses — and that’s perfectly legal.

    Then again, when you partner up with a notorious grifter like Coli, you can’t complain when you get burned.


  12. - Rich Miller - Monday, Aug 12, 19 @ 10:40 am:

    ===an obscure labor racketeering law===

    It ain’t obscure if you work for one of those unions. It’s pretty darned important.


  13. - Former Candidate on the Ballot - Monday, Aug 12, 19 @ 10:43 am:

    Let’s not forget about the 2016 & 2017 statement of economic interest, requiring disclosure for the previous calendar year. Any income derived in 2015 and beyond from the Teamsters and not reported is punishable up to $1000 and/or 1 year in prison. All reports indicate that the time frame was from 2013 to early 2016.

    https://www.ilsos.gov/economicinterest/economicinterest


  14. - siriusly - Monday, Aug 12, 19 @ 10:58 am:

    This is a good quote. Too bad it’s from the party leader of the party that ignores it’s own leader’s self dealing (emoluments). This quote would mean something if anyone in that party ever criticized Trump’s self-dealing

    Sen. Cullerton must resign immediately. He may be hoping Illinoisans will forget about his criminal behavior, but the people of this state are fed up with corruption at the hands of its public officials. The self dealing must end now if citizens are ever going to put trust in their government to work for them and not the political ruling class.” -Tim Schneider


  15. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Aug 12, 19 @ 11:07 am:

    ===This is a good quote.===

    It’s not remotely close to a good quote. This is a drunk relative type quote angry about something “30 years ago”…

    ===…may be hoping Illinoisans will forget about his criminal behavior…===

    It’s alleged criminal activity that could warrant an asking of resignation.

    This is a “good” quote if you think the rule of law means nothing.


  16. - Roman - Monday, Aug 12, 19 @ 11:21 am:

    == It ain’t obscure if you work for one of those unions ==

    Agreed. I’m sure Coli knew the law…it would be very handy for him if TC didn’t.


  17. - Former Candidate on the Ballot - Monday, Aug 12, 19 @ 11:23 am:

    This is from the Chicago Tribune -August 8, 2019
    Hancock is the current president of Joint Council 25. There is a lot of smoke here with many resigning for less.

    “Hancock said the Joint Council acted when it learned of Cullerton’s alleged conduct. “That’s why our board terminated the employment of Mr. Cullerton three years ago when it was brought to our attention that he was not adequately performing in his position,” said Hancock in his first public comments since Cullerton’s indictment.”


  18. - don the legend - Monday, Aug 12, 19 @ 11:36 am:

    Put me down for a platinum.


  19. - Rich Miller - Monday, Aug 12, 19 @ 11:37 am:

    ===it would be very handy for him if TC didn’t===

    It’s pretty well known. You definitely want to know how to avoid prison.


  20. - ike - Monday, Aug 12, 19 @ 12:20 pm:

    Tom is my local rep and and whom I voted for because he supported unions against Rauner’s anti-union agenda, but he must be pretty arrogant to believe he could get away with something like this and should resign


  21. - Shamrockery - Monday, Aug 12, 19 @ 12:35 pm:

    ===An indictment is not conviction===

    Oh fine, take all the fun away by insisting on facts /s


  22. - Rasputin - Monday, Aug 12, 19 @ 12:42 pm:

    @Oswego Willy

    Agreed with you regarding the rule of law. Some people, apparently not you, hold elected representatives to a higher standard and that’s why they are calling for a resignation.

    How many times in the last 15 years have the feds indicted an Illinois public official and not gotten a plea or a guilty verdict?


  23. - City Zen - Monday, Aug 12, 19 @ 12:57 pm:

    The same year Cullerton was listed as an “Organizer”, the joint council also had a “Deacon” on staff. He’ll know the truth.


  24. - Lucky Pierre - Monday, Aug 12, 19 @ 1:01 pm:

    Senator Tom Cullerton is still a valued member of the Democratic caucus?

    This will make for some great campaign ads


  25. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Aug 12, 19 @ 1:10 pm:

    ===Some people, apparently not you, hold elected representatives to a higher standard and that’s why they are calling for a resignation.===

    I bet that felt great typing that…

    I wrote…

    ===“The ILGOP finds these allegations of possible corruption disturbing and not within the spirit of public service. We hold elected officials to a higher standard and while Mr. Cullerton will get his chance to defend himself against these serious charges against him, he should choose to step down for the betterment of the state and his district”===

    … which could very well be my own thoughts. But, “you know”

    ===How many times in the last 15 years have the feds indicted an Illinois public official and not gotten a plea or a guilty verdict?===

    Tell us. Use the google key.


  26. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Monday, Aug 12, 19 @ 1:20 pm:

    ==How many times in the last 15 years have the feds indicted an Illinois public official and not gotten a plea or a guilty verdict?==
    I don’t know, how many? They blew it with Aaron Schock. Maybe they aren’t so talented anymore.


  27. - midway gardens - Monday, Aug 12, 19 @ 1:41 pm:

    ==They blew it with Aaron Schock.
    And they blew it with Rob Blagojevich (not RON for those reading too quickly)


  28. - Three Dimensional Checkers - Monday, Aug 12, 19 @ 2:35 pm:

    == only applies to unions engaged in interstate commerce. ==

    Most unions are going to be engaged in interstate commerce to qualify for the jurisdictional hook in federal criminal law. Even a tiny local is going to impact interstate commerce enough for federal criminal law to apply.


  29. - Dotnonymous - Monday, Aug 12, 19 @ 5:59 pm:

    - Rich Miller - Monday, Aug 12, 19 @ 10:40 am:

    ===an obscure labor racketeering law===

    It ain’t obscure if you work for one of those unions. It’s pretty darned important.

    Every Union official I’ve ever known was keenly aware of the law.


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