ILLINOIS — Rep. Andrew Chesney — Well by now we’ve all heard the news. Another Chicago-area lawmaker ensnared in a federal investigation with search warrants served on multiple state and local government offices in Chicago, the suburbs, and even the State Capitol Office of State Senator Marty Sandoval, Chairman of the powerful Senate Transportation Committee. In total, over 70 people and entities were listed in federal search warrants.
Senator Sandoval chairs one of the most influential Senate Committees, in charge of the largest spending program passed this Spring- the State’s Capital Spending Plan. Governor JB Pritzker has already distanced himself from Sandoval. The concern over his role as Senate Transportation Committee Chair is bipartisan. Pritzker quickly asked that fellow Democrat Sandoval be removed as Committee Chairman, while attempting to patch up the public relations nightmare on a Capital Bill funded by angry Illinoisans’ recent pain at the gas pump. Still, Chicago Democrat Senate President Cullerton refuses to strip the State Senator of his title as Chair of the Committee which was charged with vetting and passing this non-transparent and reckless spending plan.
Senator Sandoval is apparently being afforded plenty of time to build his defense strategy and hire high-priced Chicago lawyers before cutting off his role as “Grand Marshal of this gravy train parade” of spending and questionable dealings. While Senate Leaders remind everyone that all parties are innocent until proven guilty, everyone must concede it doesn’t look “on the up and up” to leave him as chair of this committee.
An abundance of caution must be exercised here by President Cullerton and would certainly be welcomed by its citizens’ who are exhausted from endless scandals. At worst, weary Illinoisans call it corruption, and at best, Cullerton would get a collective, “C’mon man!” from friendlies for failing to take action now in removing Sandoval as Chair. If he is cleared of all charges, Cullerton would have the option to reinstate his Chairmanship and accompanying stipend.
Democrats came together with Republicans in fighting against corruption before, in removing Governor Blagojevich from office not that long ago. In many ways, Democrats were rewarded for doing the right thing. If Cullerton fails to take action, though, he’ll have to forgive many Illinoisans for caring less about due process as they do the appearance of impropriety. Call it a muscle-memory reaction from the many times Illinois taxpayers have been wronged before when personal agendas were allowed priority over good public policies.
Without removal of Sandoval as Transportation Chair, an asterisk may always linger after the moniker “Rebuild Illinois*”. This is not the legacy which supermajority democrats should want their reign in Illinois to be remembered.
State Representative Andrew Chesney – 815-232-0774, or www.repchesney.com.