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Two totally different styles

Wednesday, Oct 30, 2019

* Let’s go back to the end of my Crain’s column from earlier this month, which compared and contrasted the leadership styles of House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton, particularly as it relates to the ongoing corruption probe

When Sen. Ira Silverstein resigned his Senate Democratic leadership after allegations were made of sexual misconduct, and when Cullerton’s cousin was moved out of his Labor Committee chairmanship, the actions were portrayed as a “mutual decision.”

No way would a guy like Sandoval agree to such a “mutual decision.” And no way would Cullerton push him out under these circumstances.

Madigan’s top-down approach has caused him endless grief and even some federal lawsuits, but, for better or worse, I doubt he would have behaved like Cullerton in this [Sandoval] instance.

We saw that clearly play out this week when Madigan quickly started the process of kicking Rep. Luis Arroyo (D-Chicago) out of office.

* We discussed this a bit yesterday

State Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, said there are intricacies to each case, including the charges filed against Sen. Tom Cullerton, D-Villa Park.

“There are issues dealing with whether or not the activity alleged directly relates to the legislature – like taking a bribe to pass a bill, something like that – as opposed to something that’s not related,” John Cullerton said.

Tom Cullerton was removed from his position the chairman of the Senate Labor Committee after he was charged with embezzling from the Teamsters union. He was made the chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, a move that allowed him to keep a leadership stipend that comes on top of his base salary.

I think an argument could be made that the charges against Tom Cullerton did relate to the legislature. Would he have allegedly obtained that allegedly ghost-payroll job if he wasn’t a state Senator?

Look, I have always liked Tom. I thought he was a decent blue-collar legislator and I was pretty shocked at his indictment, as were plenty of others. But it is what it is. The Senate is the legislative branch, not the judicial branch, so things like due process don’t always translate from one to the other.

* Meanwhile

State Sen. Tom Cullerton, D-Villa Park — who has been accused in a federal indictment of being a ghost payroller for the Teamsters — has been in attendance for veto session this week. But state Sen. Martin Sandoval, D-Chicago, has not shown up for session. Sandoval’s offices and home were raided last month as FBI agents sought evidence of kickbacks in exchange for official actions — as well as information related to five Illinois Department of Transportation employees and several lobbyists. Sandoval, who was a key figure in passing the capital bill, has not been charged.

As part of his bail, Rep. Arroyo was ordered not to have any contact with anyone involved with his case, including the unnamed Senator he allegedly attempted to bribe. As long as that Senator is in Springfield, Arroyo can’t show up without risking a violation. Like he would show up anyway, but you get the idea.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

11 Comments
  1. - Ok - Wednesday, Oct 30, 19 @ 9:59 am:

    That’s totally unfair to Tom Cullerton, Rich. I mean, it’s not like he had two or three Ghost payroll jobs.

    It was just one. Who doesn’t have at least one?


  2. - Just Me - Wednesday, Oct 30, 19 @ 10:06 am:

    Arroyo is just going to either (1) re-appoint himself, and since the House can’t kick someone out twice for the same crime he’ll continue to get his taxpayer funded salary/benefits, (2) appoint his wife, or (3) appoint his son.

    We should end the practice of allowing mid-term appointments and do the same as the U.S. House and call special elections.


  3. - Just Observing - Wednesday, Oct 30, 19 @ 10:27 am:

    === I think an argument could be made that the charges against Tom Cullerton did relate to the legislature. Would he have allegedly obtained that allegedly ghost-payroll job if he wasn’t a state Senator? ===

    And.. and an argument could be made that a ghost payroll union job is really just bribes disguised as a paycheck in exchange for for being very favorable to the union.


  4. - Keyrock - Wednesday, Oct 30, 19 @ 10:36 am:

    Just Me has a point. Is there any process for removing a criminally charged party committeeman?


  5. - Paddyrollingstone - Wednesday, Oct 30, 19 @ 10:37 am:

    “And.. and an argument could be made that a ghost payroll union job is really just bribes disguised as a paycheck in exchange for for being very favorable to the union.”

    My problem with this logic was that he was going to be pro-union 100% anyway. It would be like Wayne LaPierre getting elected to the legislature and the ISRA having to give him a no show job. I mean, the guy is on your side right?


  6. - Just Observing - Wednesday, Oct 30, 19 @ 11:00 am:

    @Paddyrollingstone: Absolutely — he would be pro-union regardless — but… arguably, he might be motivated to introduce and push through pro-union legislation that he otherwise might not, which would be very different than just voting on reasonable pro-union bills already introduced.


  7. - Tired - Wednesday, Oct 30, 19 @ 11:18 am:

    Is being on a union payroll while chairing the Senate Labor committee a conflict? It sure doesn’t pass the smell test.


  8. - Todd - Wednesday, Oct 30, 19 @ 12:42 pm:

    so how is Cullerton’s position different than these Senators and reps who are lawyers of counsel to law firms where they are “rain makers” and such? I don’t think many of them spend time in a court room. . .


  9. - Former Candidate on the Ballot - Wednesday, Oct 30, 19 @ 1:11 pm:

    I am troubled by the Senate Presidents logic that “whether or not the activity alleged directly relates to the legislature” for action to be taken. For one, I agree with you Rich that these indictments DO relate to be a legislator. However, based upon the Senate Presidents logic, think of how many chargeable offenses that are unbecoming of a Senator but are not directly related to the legislator he may choose to ignore - Domestics, Alcohol, Illegal substance, solicitation, etc. etc.


  10. - Perrid - Wednesday, Oct 30, 19 @ 2:44 pm:

    Todd, tons of lawyers don’t work in court rooms, their work goes a lot beyond that. If I remember correctly part of this was outright fraud, Tom Cullerton got paid for working a full day for the Teamsters while he was in Springfield all day working as a legislator. Literally being for work he did not do.


  11. - Powdered Whig - Wednesday, Oct 30, 19 @ 3:15 pm:

    === so how is Cullerton’s position different than these Senators and reps who are lawyers of counsel to law firms where they are “rain makers” and such? ===

    Two things:

    1. They actually show up to work or they don’t get paid.

    2. Federal law makes ghost-payrolling at a union illegal. If a law firm wants to pay you for little to no work, its not illegal - its simply on the law firm.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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