An Illinois state representative facing a federal bribery charge resigned Friday.
Chicago Democrat Luis Arroyo appeared in federal court earlier in the week for allegedly attempting to bribe an unidentified state senator on behalf of a lobbying client who had an interest in legislation regarding so-called “sweepstakes” gaming machines.
“I have made the decision that the time has come for me to retire from public service,” Arroyo wrote in his resignation letter dated Oct. 31. His resignation is effective Friday.
Arroyo’s resignation comes just before his House colleagues were to begin proceedings Friday afternoon to forcibly remove him from office.
Arroyo’s office maintains he will be vindicated.
Arroyo, the 65-year-old former assistant majority leader in the state House, was charged with “theft or bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds.”In his resignation letter, Arroyo writes that he resigned “to spare the members of this body from having to take such a difficult vote at a time when you are all running for re-election considering how well we have all worked together.”
“I would like to add that you should all keep in mind that public service should be for a duration of time wherein you are an effective member of the body,” Arroyo continued. “Once you have gone beyond your period of peak effectiveness, you should really call it a day and retire while you can still enjoy the later years in your life.”Arroyo’s arrest follows a series of federal raids in the Chicago area in recent months, and even one at the state Capitol in Springfield.
But nobody had been charged yet in the wide-ranging probe – until Arroyo, who posted $10,000 bond, surrendered his passport and was ordered not to have contact with an unnamed “Individual A.”
During last month’s FBI raid at the Springfield office of state Sen. Martin Sandoval, a Southwest Side Chicago Democrat, the feds were seeking documents regarding sweepstakes games.
The devices, which operate much like video-gambling machines, have spread rapidly across Chicago and other parts of the state.
Unlike the video poker machines that the state has regulated and taxed since 2012, the other machines don’t pay state or local government. And the state does not conduct background checks of sweepstakes machine operators or the businesses that install them, as is required for video poker licenses.
A WBEZ investigation last year found some bars that were deemed unfit for video gambling have simply installed sweepstakes machines instead.
Even as he’s worked in Springfield, Arroyo has also been a lobbyist at Chicago City Hall, city records show. According to disclosures he filed with the city ethics board, Arroyo has lobbied members of the Chicago City Council for “sweepstakes machines legislation” on behalf of a client called VSS, Inc.
State Politics Reporter Dave McKinney and Investigative Reporter Dan Mihalopoulos contributed.