Lawmaker who voted for ‘fair tax’ pleads guilty to tax fraud

Lawmaker who voted for ‘fair tax’ pleads guilty to tax fraud

Five key supporters of the progressive tax in the Illinois General Assembly are facing corruption probes. Four have been charged. Three have resigned.

Former state Sen. Terry Link, D-Indian Creek, pleaded guilty to a tax evasion charge on Sept. 16. Link resigned from the Illinois Senate on Sept. 12 after being charged with the crime.

Link was charged with falsifying his 2016 tax returns. He reported his income was $264,450, but federal prosecutors said he knew his income “substantially exceeded that amount.”

The former lawmaker spent $73,000 from his campaign fund on personal expenses, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. His scheme cost the IRS $25,913 and the Illinois Department of Revenue $3,520. He also filed false tax returns between 2012 and 2015.

Link was identified by the Chicago Tribune as the senator who recorded a bribery offer from former state Rep. Luis Arroyo in August 2019. News accounts and charges state he wore a wire for the FBI in exchange for a lighter sentence on tax evasion charges, although he previously denied cooperating with the federal corruption probe.

Arroyo and Link met at a Highland Park restaurant where the two discussed support for Arroyo’s gambling legislation, according to a Chicago Tribune report. They then went outside, and Arroyo offered Link a bribe.

“I’m going to give you this here. This is, this is, this is the jackpot,” Arroyo said as he handed Link a bribe of $2,500, with a promise for monthly payments of the same amount.

“Let’s be clear, my word is my bond and my, my reputation,” Arroyo said.

Arroyo was arrested on Oct. 25 and charged with bribing a state official. He now faces up to 10 years behind bars and has since resigned as state representative.

Link was the fourth state legislator who supported Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s progressive income tax amendment to be charged with a crime in the past year. He is now the third member to resign.

Speaker of the House Michael Madigan is the fifth key supporter of the “fair tax” getting a hard look from federal investigators. He was implicated in a bribery scheme July 17 when Commonwealth Edison admitted wrongdoing and pledged cooperation with federal prosecutors. The prosecution agreement states ComEd directed $1.3 million to Madigan’s associates in exchange for support on key legislation worth $150 million to the energy company. He is also under internal investigation by a House committee for behavior unbecoming of a state lawmaker.

In April 2019, Chicago Magazine remarked that Link, as assistant majority leader in the Illinois Senate, would be responsible for “whipping votes to place the progressive income tax on next year’s ballot.” The Senate passed the amendment the following month.

In addition to Link and Arroyo, former state Sen. Martin Sandoval resigned in January after being charged with bribery. State Sen. Tom Cullerton, D-Villa Park, was indicted in August 2019 on 41 counts for embezzlement, conspiracy and making false statements, but has not resigned.

Pritzker’s “fair tax” would only provide $6 in relief to Illinois’ low-income residents, yet take $3.7 billion out of the Illinois economy as the state is trying to recover from the COVID-19 economic downturn. It also hurts struggling Illinoisans by targeting the most fertile source of Illinois jobs – increasing taxes up to 47% on over 100,000 small businesses. Pritzker put $56.5 million of his own money into the “fair tax” campaign to persuade voters that state lawmakers should be trusted with greater taxing powers, but he, too, is facing a federal probe for a $331,000 property tax dodge.

Illinois voters on Nov. 3 will decide whether to amend the Illinois Constitution to remove the flat income tax protection and allow progressive taxes. That move to the “fair tax” would give the power to decide who should be taxed and by how much to state lawmakers – a group with a spotty reputation for paying its own taxes.

Want more? Get stories like this delivered straight to your inbox.

Thank you, we'll keep you informed!