The governor and a Democratic state senator disagree on whether another Democratic state senator facing embezzlement charges should continue as a chairman for a legislative committee.
State Sen. Tom Cullerton, D-Villa Park, is set to be arraigned in federal court Wednesday on embezzlement charges.
Federal prosecutors indicated Cullerton last week for allegedly embezzling nearly $250,000 from the Teamsters Union. Cullerton’s attorney has said his client did nothing wrong.
Illinois Republican Party Chairman Tim Schneider said Cullerton should step down 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,” Schneider said. “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.”
Gov. J.B. Pritzker wouldn’t say if Cullerton should step down. But the governor said that elected officials should be held to higher standards.
“What’s important is that we find out what the facts are and then pursue justice against whoever it is that commits acts that are against the interest of public integrity,” Pritzker said.
Last week Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, moved Sen. Tom Cullerton from leading the Senate Labor Committee to heading the Senate Veteran Affairs Committee, a move that allowed the Senator to keep a stipend for being a committee leader.
Pritzker said shifting Cullerton’s committee chairmanship made sense.
“As you know I think he stepped aside or was asked to step aside from the chairmanship of the Labor Committee, which is the area the allegations were made in, and I think that is an appropriate first step,” Pritzker said.
Schneider said he was appalled at the chairmanship shift.
“Embezzlement and conspiracy come with jail time for regular people,” he said. “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?”
State Sen. Linda Holmes, D-Aurora, said if she had the ability, Cullerton wouldn’t even have that.
“I probably would have stripped the committee chairmanship,” Holmes said. “Left him on his committees, obviously left him voting until anything commenced from that point.”