Two longtime Democratic state senators whose names have come up as part of the wide-ranging federal corruption probe that led to charges against former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan have dropped their reelection bids.
Sens. Tony Muñoz of Chicago, an assistant majority leader, and Steve Landek, who doubles as mayor of Bridgeview, withdrew their names from the June 28 primary ballot, each likely clearing the way for their political allies to take over the respective seats. Neither Muñoz nor Landek has been accused of any wrongdoing.
Muñoz, a former Chicago police officer who’s been in the Senate since 1999, could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday, but he issued a statement announcing he plans to retire when his term is up in January.
“I was taught at a young age that hard work and determination is the key to success,” Muñoz said. “I have applied this to everything I have accomplished, especially as a state senator.”
With no candidate in the June 28 Republican primary for the newly drawn 1st Senate District, Muñoz’s withdrawal leaves son-in-law Javier Loera Cervantes as the sole candidate on the ballot. There is, however, an objection pending against Cervantes’ nominating petition.
Landek, who was appointed to a vacant Senate seat with Madigan’s help in 2011, declined to comment on his decision. But with him out of the running, the only remaining candidate on the primary ballot is Democrat Mike Porfirio, a Lyons Township trustee who previously worked as Landek’s chief of staff in his Senate office and also as public works director in Bridgeview. No Republicans are currently running for the seat.
Neither Cervantes nor Porfirio could be reached for comment.
By putting their names on the ballot and then withdrawing after the filing period is closed, Muñoz and Landek likely warded off other potential candidates who might have been interested in running for an open seat but wouldn’t have wanted to take on an incumbent.
Landek is expected to remain in the Senate until the end of his term and he also continues to serve as Bridgeview mayor, a job he first won in 1999. He is also the head of the Democratic Organization of Lyons Township.
Had Landek remained on the ballot it would have been the first time he faced voters since his name surfaced in a sweeping federal corruption probe that led to the indictment of Madigan and a guilty plea from Landek’s former neighboring state senator, Martin Sandoval. A Chicago Democrat, Sandoval died in December 2020 of COVID-19 after pleading guilty to bribery and tax charges and agreeing to cooperate with federal prosecutors.
Federal agents who raided Sandoval’s Springfield office in September 2019 seized a number of items, including a flash drive with “Landek written on it,” according to search warrant documents.
Landek, who shared an office suite and a legislative assistant with Sandoval, has not been charged with any wrongdoing.
One month later, in October 2019, Landek told the Tribune the flash drive likely contained information about office bills, rents and phones, and possibly legislation he sponsored for the Illinois Municipal League. He said at the time that he hadn’t been interviewed by federal authorities.
When federal agents descended on village hall in southwest suburban Lyons two days after raiding Sandoval’s state Capitol office, “items related to the Democratic Organization of Lyons Township” were among the records they sought, according to a search warrant.
The list of items that were seized in the Lyons raid also included a framed photograph of Lyons Village President Christopher Getty with Muñoz. Muñoz, like Sandoval, came up through the now-defunct Hispanic Democratic Organization, a Chicago patronage army backed by then-Mayor Richard M. Daley.
In October 2019, Muñoz issued a statement saying that questions about the photo were “the first time I’m hearing about this.”
“Our local government officials visit the Capitol while we’re in session, and I often meet with and take pictures with them,” he said at the time.
Separately, a court filing earlier this year in the federal case against former state Rep. Luis Arroyo, who has pleaded guilty to a bribery scheme involving sweepstakes gambling machines, revealed that Muñoz testified before a grand jury in the matter.
A motion from Arroyo’s attorneys seeking probation rather than prison time noted Muñoz testified that Arroyo only approached him to arrange a meeting. Muñoz had previously sponsored a measure that would have banned the machines, which died in the House after being approved without opposition in the Senate.
In February 2020, the village of Bridgeview, where Landek is mayor, received a federal grand jury subpoena for a range of documents, including communications with Madigan and his longtime confidant Michael McClain, a former state lawmaker and lobbyist who was charged alongside the former speaker last month in a 22-count federal indictment.
As part of the February 2020 subpoena, authorities also sought communications with Madigan’s hand-picked alderman, Marty Quinn, 13th, and his brother Kevin Quinn, who’d been ousted from the speaker’s political organization over sexual harassment allegations.
Most of the documents requested in the subpoena was for information related to Raymond T. Nice, a longtime precinct captain in Madigan’s 13th Ward organization. Authorities sought contracts, invoices and tax records, among other documents. While Nice is not named in the Madigan indictment and has not been charged, the Tribune has reported that prosecutors alleged Nice was designated a subcontractor and had payments funneled to him through a ComEd lobbyist. Nice did little or no work, prosecutors said.
As the Tribune has previously reported, Bridgeview was among the more than half-dozen suburbs that awarded insurance business to the firm that employed Madigan’s son, Andrew.
Bridgeview selected Mesirow Financial as its broker for risk management insurance in December 2010, about a month before Michael Madigan presided over a meeting of local Democratic Party leaders who unanimously chose Landek to replace retiring Sen. Lou Viverito. In 2012, Landek declined to say whether Andrew Madigan was involved in securing the three-year contract, but he said all insurance brokerage deals in the village went through a competitive bidding process.
The federal indictment of Michael Madigan alleges that during a 2018 meeting about a potential appointment to a state board, he asked then-Ald. Danny Solis, who was wearing a wire, to steer insurance business to his son.
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April 21, 2022 at 02:55PM