State Week: Senator Under Indictment; Madigan Fights Back; Financial Aid Scandal

The U.S. attorney’s office in Chicago announced Friday that state Sen. Tom Cullerton was under indictment for embezzeling from a local branch of the Teamsters union. He’s accused of collecting more than $274,000 in pay and benefits for “little or no work.” Cullerton denies the charges.

Meanwhile, House Speaker Michael Madigan is demanding that the plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit against him offer evidence of his power and influence. Former primary election opponent Jason Gonzales is suing Madigan for allegedly mudding the primary field by putting up two sham candidates with Latino-sounding names.

Also this week, ProPublica Illinois and the Wall Street Journal separately reported that scores of wealthy Illinois families are exploiting a loophole to get need-based financial aid for their college-bound children. The parents transfer guardianship of the child to another person, and the child then declares financial independence. Gov. J.B. Pritzker vowed an investigation into the practice, which he called “fraud.”

Finally, Chicago resident Candace Gingrich has a new job with Revolution Florida — a sister company to Illinois-based Revolition Enterprises, which sells a variety of cannabis products. The hire made the news because Gingrich is married to state Rep. Kelly Cassidy, one of the leading legislators behind this year’s legalization of recreational marijuana in Illinois.

Sean Crawford hosts with regular panelists Charlie Wheeler and Brian Mackey, and guest Doug Finke of GateHouse Media and The State Journal-Register.