Ives calls Cullerton indictment 'corruption at the highest level'
Jeanne Ives is not holding back her disappointment over news that Illinois state Sen. Thomas Cullerton (D-Villa Park) has been indicted on federal charges of embezzlement for allegedly pocketing as much as $275,000 from union bosses for a job where he was required to do next to nothing.
"If these charges are true, it is another depressing day in Illinois and a further indicator of a culture of corruption among the political elites," Ives, who recently launched her campaign in the 6th Congressional District against U.S. Rep. Sean Casten (D-Downers Grove), told the DuPage Policy Journal. “It’s unbelievable that once again we have corruption at the highest level.”
According to the Chicago Tribune, Cullerton’s indictment comes only 72 hours after former longtime Teamsters boss John Coli Sr. pleaded guilty to federal charges of corruption and agreed to corporate with authorities. Part of the indictment alleges that Cullerton conspired with Coli as recently as four years ago in landing the high-salaried post now at the center of the probe.
In all, Cullerton faces 39 counts of embezzlement and a single charge of conspiracy and making false statements, with each of the charges carrying up to five years in prison if convicted.
“Thomas Cullerton is a very, very friendly and jovial legislator,” Ives said. “People tend to like him. He served his country in the Army and for someone like him to be involved in something like this is disappointing. He probably thought there was nothing wrong with what he was doing because everybody does it.
"The truth is most Illinoisans don’t do it, but everybody in the Democratic, political field seems to think they can have their own scam on the side. There is a culture of corruption in the Democratic party in Illinois.”
Through his attorneys, the 49-yer-old Cullerton, a distant cousin of Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago), has denied all charges.
Either way, Ives said she already sees a troubling pattern.
“You have states’ attorneys that doesn’t enforce their laws,” she said. “You have the attorney general, Lisa Madigan, who could never fight corruption in her 16 years. You have the lawlessness of Kim Foxx, you have the people in position of power to make sure the law is enforced and they don’t do it and that’s the problem.”
According to the indictment, Cullerton had been a member of Teamsters Local Union 734 before assuming his state Senate seat in January 2013. The filing further charges he rarely showed up for the job he was given, and Coli repeatedly “ignored and failed to act upon repeated complaints” by a supervisor.
Cullerton is the seventh Illinois legislator to be hit with criminal charges over the last seven years.