Disgraced Illinois lawmaker collected $130K pension while awaiting prison sentence

Disgraced Illinois lawmaker collected $130K pension while awaiting prison sentence

The former Illinois House assistant majority leader received a taxpayer-funded pension worth $129,000 between his retirement in 2019 after being arrested for bribery by federal authorities and his conviction in 2022.

Former state Rep. Luis Arroyo was sentenced to 57 months in federal prison May 25, after pleading guilty to charges of accepting bribes in exchange for promoting legislation expanding sweepstakes gambling in Illinois.

The conviction of the former Illinois House assistant majority leader comes more than two years after Arroyo was first arrested in October 2019 by federal authorities on one count of bribing a state official.

In a matter of months, the embroiled state representative retired from office and picked up additional federal charges of wire and mail fraud. He also collected an Illinois taxpayer-funded pension worth $129,762, a Freedom of Information Act request shows.

The retirement payout Arroyo received over just 29 months was more than triple what he contributed over his 13 years of public service.

While Arroyo was ultimately stripped of his pension by law after being found guilty, Illinoisans were still on the hook to pay the corrupt public official $53,694 each year until his sentencing for his personal use. These funds were never recouped by state taxpayers.

As lawmakers predicted the trial of indicted former House Speaker Michael Madigan to stretch on for several years, state Rep. Amy Elik introduced a bill that would have suspended tax funded benefits for lawmakers under criminal investigation.

HB 5737 was introduced in the final days of spring session after federal authorities indicted Madigan, the nation’s longest serving house speaker, on charges of bribery and racketeering in connection with alleged corruption schemes. Madigan served as majority leader alongside Arroyo before his arrest.

“Corrupt lawmakers should not receive a taxpayer-funded pension if they defrauded the taxpayers while serving themselves in state government,” Elik said. “Suspending pension payments while awaiting the resolution of a case will send a strong message to corrupt politicians that if you break the law, the consequences will be costly.”

Elik’s bill was reassigned to the House rules committee April 1. The measure did not make it to the floor for a vote before state lawmakers ended the session April 8.

Inaction by politicians on HB 5737 and other corruption fighting reforms over the decades has ended up costing Illinoisans $556 million every year. Not only does this corruption weaken residents’ faith in the government, but it decreases economic growth and disincentivizes investment in the state.

Similar attempts at ethics reform during the spring session, including a bill preventing lawmakers convicted of corruption from running for public office, were also reassigned to the rules committee for review until the close of session.

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