Former political foe Lewis calls for Cullerton's resignation: 'He misrepresented himself'
Bartlett business owner and former political rival Seth Lewis is calling for the resignation of Illinois state Sen. Thomas Cullerton (D-Villa Park) in the wake of federal corruption charges against the veteran lawmaker.
“I have personally called for Cullerton’s resignation,” Lewis, who narrowly lost out to Cullerton in the 23rd District in 2016, told the DuPage Policy Journal. “It’s not a question of innocent until proven guilty. I was on the campaign trail when he repeatedly told the voters his only source of income was his state senate salary, and obviously that is not true. The income in question, whether the federal government decides those payments were legal or illegal, he did not disclose that. He misrepresented himself.”
Federal prosecutors moved late last week to formally charge Cullerton with pocketing as much as $275,000 in income from a Teamsters Union job where he reportedly rarely showed up for work and had no formal job description. He faces at least 39 charges ranging from embezzlement to conspiracy to making false statements. Each of the charges carries at least five years in prison if convicted.
The Chicago Tribune has reported that investigators moved to charge Cullerton less than 72 hours after former longtime Teamsters boss John Coli Sr. pleaded guilty to federal charges of corruption and agreed to cooperate with investigators going forward. 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.
“It’s unfortunate that the residents of the 23rd District are faced with the dishonest actions of Sen. Cullerton,” Lewis said. “I think if they had known he had taken part in this type of activity prior to the election, the results would have been much different.”
Through his attorneys, the 49-year-old Cullerton, a distant cousin of Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago), has denied all the charges. Thomas Cullerton is the seventh Illinois legislator to be hit with criminal charges over the last seven years, and Lewis hinted that lingering blemish on state government could be enough to propel him back into the political mix.
“I have always thought that me as an individual, with my background as an engineer, a small business owner, as a person dedicated to Illinois, could better represent the constituents of the 23rd District,” Lewis said. “If the opportunity is right, I am always willing to help serve those in the community because that is who I am.”
The 23rd District includes parts of Bartlett, Bloomingdale, Glendale Heights, Roselle, Wood Dale and Villa Park.