Sen. Tom Cullerton
Edgar County Watchdog Kirk Allen wants to see the law do its job in the ongoing federal probe veteran state Sen. Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) now finds himself at the center of.
“If he factually falsified statements of economics, he should face the penalties that are outlined in the statute,” Allen told the DuPage Policy Journal. “The document reflects violation for filling out a false statement subjects him to a $1,000 fine or one-year in a penal institution. I don’t know the circumstance of the case, but the law should be enforced.”
Federal prosecutors moved earlier this month to slap Cullerton with a 40-count indictment, alleging that he pocketed at least $275,000 from a union job where he had no official job description and was rarely required to show up. The charges against Cullerton, the distant cousin of Sen. President John Cullerton (D-Chicago), range from embezzlement to conspiracy to making false statements, with each of them carrying up to five-years in prison if convicted.
Kirk Allen, Edgar County Watchdogs cofounder and writer
Cullerton’s indictment came just hours after former Teamsters boss John Coli Sr. pleaded guilty to federal charges and agreed to cooperate with authorities going forward. Elements of the indictment allege that Cullerton conspired with Coli as recently as four years ago in landing the high-salaried post investigators are now zeroing in on.
“The state of Illinois has operated in a culture of corruption for so many years that it’s just a normal operation that most people aren’t bothered,” Allen said. “They (politicians) think they can do whatever they want because they’re elected officials and that’s all the way up.”
Through his attorneys, the 49-year-old Cullerton has denied all charges. Cullerton is represented by John Theis, the husband of a sitting Illinois Supreme Court Justice, who some have argued he should recuse himself due to a potential conflict of interest.
“I would say he should abide by the conflict rule and if there is a conflict he should recuse,” Allen said. “Some people would say there is a perception, but our justice system doesn’t work off perception.”
A member of Teamsters Local Union 734 before assuming his state Senate seat in January 2013, Cullerton is the seventh Illinois legislator to be hit with criminal charges over the last seven years.