GOP leader Durkin challenges Arroyo replacement, attributing appointment to ‘corrupt process’

In the letter, Durkin said that the appointment process that resulted in Delgado replacing Arroyo, who was hit with a federal bribery charge, “calls into question the integrity of the process and the House itself.

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State House Republican Leader Jim Durkin, left, in 2018; state Rep. Eva-Dina Delgado, right, last month. File Photos.

State House Republican Leader Jim Durkin, left, in 2018; state Rep. Eva-Dina Delgado, right, last week. File Photos.

Rich Hein/Sun-Times

Illinois House Republican Leader Jim Durkin on Tuesday filed a qualification challenge against appointed state Rep. Eva-Dina Delgado, calling for a “clean break” from former Rep. Luis Arroyo.

“A clean break from the arrested legislator is required to re-establish the General Assembly’s trust with its constituents,” Durkin wrote in his letter challenging Delgado. “Had the votes of Mr. Arroyo not been part of the selection process, this appointment would not be called into question.”

In the letter, Durkin said that the appointment process that resulted in Delgado replacing Arroyo, who was hit with a federal bribery charge, “calls into question the integrity of the process and the House itself.

“The candidates who were vying to replace Rep. Arroyo and who were not chosen, were victims of a corrupt process,” Durkin wrote.

State Rep. Luis Arroyo leaves the Dirksen Federal Building in October.

State Rep. Luis Arroyo leaves the Dirksen Federal Building in October. File Photo.

Santiago Covarrubias/Sun-Times

The challenge came on the same day that Arroyo pleaded not guilty to the bribery charge in federal court.

Delgado was appointed last fall to finish the rest of Arroyo’s term until the winner of this year’s election could be sworn in next January. Democratic ward committeepersons representing parts of the House district made the appointment at a November meeting that sparked an uproar.

Even before the ward committeepersons met, Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan weighed in, warning that “any involvement” by Arroyo’s 36thWard organization “whether a direct vote or a vote by proxy would cause the candidate’s qualifications to be challenged by the full Illinois House of Representatives.”

But the ward leaders didn’t heed that warning, thumbing their noses at one of the state’s most powerful politicians. Ald. Ariel Reboyras (30th) served as Arroyo’s proxy, casting the 36thWard votes and his own for Delgado.

House Speaker Mike Madigan, left; Ald. Ariel E. Reboyras (30th), right.

House Speaker Mike Madigan, left; Ald. Ariel E. Reboyras (30th), right.

Rich Hein/Sun-Times

Despite the outcry, Madigan didn’t file the challenge — he didn’t even bring it up during a “meet and greet” with Delgado, she said last week.

Durkin argued that the taint of Arroyo’s involvement impairs state government.

“The public’s distrust of its government to illegal actions of its officials hinders the ability of the government to provide the services it is constitutionally tasked with carrying out,” the letter reads. “Everything it does, even if legitimate and legal, will be viewed in a negative light should the individuals who are arrested for illegal activities have a part in the selection process.”

Delgado said she was “very surprised” to find out about the qualification challenge, calling Durkin’s allegatons “baseless.”

“My qualifications are what they are,” Delgado said. “I’m qualified to sit in the House of Representatives so, you know, if we have to go through this process to prove that, then I’m happy to do it.”

Delgado defended her appointment, saying the process for her selection was transparent.

“I availed myself of the only process that exists,” Delgado said. “So I wasn’t involved in any of those discussions, I don’t know how any of that really worked out behind the scenes.”

Delgado said she has sought counsel and is not worried about being removed from the House.

“I think it’s baseless, and I also I look forward to defending my qualifications,” Delgado said. “I think my qualifications will stand up quite well.”

“It is election season. Things like that happen during election season,” Delgado said.

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