Tuesday, October 20, 2020

State Rep. Luis Arroyo arrested on bribery charges

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State Rep. Luis Arroyo has been charged with bribery. House Speaker Michael Madigan called on Arroyo to resign from the House.

Arroyo appeared Monday morning at the Dirksen Federal Building, where U.S. Magistrate Judge Maria Valdez informed him of a maximum sentence of 10 years on a charge of offering an illicit payment to a state senator.

In a statement, the U.S. attorney’s office alleges Arroyo offered “a bribe to a fellow state lawmaker in an effort to influence and reward the lawmaker for supporting legislation that would benefit Arroyo’s private lobbying client.”

Arroyo, 65, faces one count of federal program bribery.

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Madigan said in a statement: “We have already contacted Rep. Arroyo’s counsel to determine whether he will resign as state representative. I urge Rep. Arroyo to resign from the House of Representatives, effective immediately. If he refuses, I will take the necessary steps to begin the process to remove him from office.

“Additionally, I have instructed my staff to begin bringing together stakeholders and experts to closely examine our ethics and lobbying laws and find ways to strengthen existing law.”

Gov. J.B. Pritzker called on Arroyo to step down from the chairmanship of the Appropriations-Capital Committee.

“Corruption, deception and self-dealing have no place in our government, and public officials who betray the public trust have forfeited the privilege of serving,” Pritzker said in a statement. “While this investigation and court case continue, Rep. Luis Arroyo must immediately step down from his committee chairmanship, or be removed.”

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More from the statement from the U.S. attorney’s office:

“According to the complaint, on Aug. 2, 2019, Arroyo offered to pay $2,500 per month to an Illinois state senator in return for the senator’s support of sweepstakes-related legislation that would benefit one of Arroyo’s lobbying clients. On Aug. 22, 2019, Arroyo met with the senator at a restaurant in Skokie and provided him a check for $2,500 as an initial payment, with the expectation that additional payments would be made for the next six to 12 months, the complaint states. The check was made payable to a nominee of the senator for the purpose of concealing the illicit payment, the complaint states.”

House Republican Leader Jim Durkin told reporters in Springfield he would begin the process to remove Arroyo from office unless he resigns by “end of business day today.”

“Today begins a process of cleaning up this chamber,” he said. “This is not tolerable and we will remove him based on the authority we do have under House rules.”

Durkin said he is unwilling to wait for the conclusions of an investigation, saying there’s been established “probable cause that Rep. Arroyo was engaged in an illegal act.”

City records maintained by the Board of Ethics show Arroyo lobbied aldermen on “sweepstakes” legislation on behalf of a firm, V.S.S. Inc. Arroyo and his wife, Maribel, operate Spartacus 3.

Aldermen twice considered legislation to change the city code to ban “free play option” or “sweepstakes” machines that might look like poker, bingo, craps, keno, eight-liner or other similar gaming machines, but don’t require money to play. The City Council changes came amid increased scrutiny of the machines from WBEZ, but neither measure managed to pass.

The complaint suggests Arroyo was planning to pursue legislation in this veto session regarding sweepstakes gaming.

Arroyo spoke little during his court appearance, only telling Valdez that he understood the charge against him and his right to counsel. His lawyer, Michael Gillespie, waived a preliminary hearing.

The conditions of his release include an unsecured $10,000 bond. He must also surrender his passport, not travel outside the continental U.S. and have no contact with an “Individual A.”

Arroyo is a Democrat whose district spans Chicago’s Northwest Side neighborhoods of Montclare, Belmont Cragin and Hermosa. He was first appointed to his seat in 2006. Arroyo sits on the Labor, International Trade & Commerce and Mass Transit committees in the Illinois General Assembly.

His son, Luis Arroyo Jr., sits on the Cook County Board.

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