Illinois state Rep. Andrew Chesney (R-Freeport)
Illinois state Rep. Andrew Chesney (R-Freeport) has joined the growing number of lawmakers and activists calling for the repeal of the state gas tax.
“We should repeal the gas tax and start over,” Chesney recently posted on Facebook. “The backroom deals look so bad – and were likely illegal – that the FBI is stepping in. We need to reform Illinois and it starts with ethics.”
Ever since lawmakers in Springfield moved earlier this summer to pass legislation doubling the state gas tax to 38 cents per gallon, questions about what may have fueled the action have abound. Soon after the tax became law, federal agents raided the home and offices of longtime state Sen. Martin Sandoval (D-Chicago) as part of a widening federal corruption probe.
Illinois state Sen. Martin Sandoval (D-Chicago)
Earlier this month, senate Democrats released copies of the full, unredacted search warrant that was used to conduct the searches on Sandoval, with parts of the affidavit pointing to a possible connection between some lawmakers and SafeSpeed LLC, one of the city’s largest red-light camera operators. Until recently stepping down, Sandoval chaired the powerful Senate Transportation Committee that was instrumental in getting the gas tax passed as part of the state’s new $45 billion spending plan.
Several media outlets have reported that Sandoval once personally intervened on SafeSpeed’s behalf in strong-arming the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) into signing off on a red-light camera installation in Oakbrook Terrace that IDOT had previously denied. At around the same time, Sandoval is reported to have pocketed tens of thousands of dollars in campaign donations from the company and its owner.
In the wake of the latest developments, Illinois Republican Party Chairman Tim Schneider has pointed to what he deemed as a culture of criminal activity within the Democratic Party.
“From another close [House Speaker Michael] Madigan (D-Chicago) ally to Pritzker’s tollway appointee, there is virtually no level of state and local government in Cook County that is not teeming with self-dealing Democrats looking to screw over taxpayers,” Schneider said. “The Illinois Democratic Party is a crime ring masquerading as a political party.”