John Cullerton

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John Cullerton
John Cullerton.jpg
President of the Illinois Senate
Assumed office
January 14, 2009
Preceded byEmil Jones
Member of the Illinois Senate
from the 6th district
Assumed office
January 31, 1991
Preceded byDawn Clark Netsch
Member of the Illinois House of Representatives
from the 7th district
12th district (1979–1983)
In office
January 10, 1979 – January 31, 1991
Preceded byEllis B. Levin[1]
Succeeded byAnn Stepan
Personal details
Born (1948-10-28) October 28, 1948 (age 70)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Pam Cullerton
EducationLoyola University, Chicago (BA, JD)
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Army
Years of service1970–1976
UnitIllinois National Guard

John J. Cullerton (born October 28, 1948) is an American politician who is currently a Democratic member of the Illinois Senate, representing the 6th district since his appointment in 1991. He was elected President of the Illinois Senate in 2009.[2] Cullerton is involved in an ongoing corruption scandal in which he is accused of pressuring the Cook County Department of Transportation and Highways to pave public green space at taxpayer expense to enable a real estate development that he co-owns.[3]

Early life[edit]

Cullerton is a native of Chicago. He received his bachelor's degree in political science from Loyola University of Chicago, where he also earned his law degree. After graduating from law school, Cullerton served as a Chicago Assistant Public Defender. He went on to work at the law firm of Fagel and Haber.[4]

Political career[edit]

Illinois House[edit]

In 1979, he was elected to the Illinois General Assembly where he served for twelve years as a member of the House of Representatives. He served as Democratic Floor Leader. According to Cullerton's campaign website, he sponsored the most bills and had the most bills passed of all legislators in the 93rd and 94th General Assemblies.[5]

Illinois Senate[edit]

After being appointed to fill Dawn Clark Netsch's seat in 1991, Cullerton was elected to the state senate in 1992 where he was appointed Senate Majority Caucus Whip. Cullerton has been recognized for sponsoring more bills than any other legislator and having more signed into law by the governor.[citation needed]

Cullerton was chosen as the senate president by the Senate Democratic Caucus on November 19, 2008 to begin serving in 2009, replacing the retiring Emil Jones.[6]

His first legislative priority as senate president was to pass the first Capital Bill in 10 years, which allocated roughly $31 billion for public works projects and created tens of thousands of jobs[citation needed] in Illinois Public Act 096-0036 [1]. Cullerton led the senate during the impeachment trial, and subsequent removal, of former Governor Rod Blagojevich.[citation needed]

Cullerton served as a delegate to the 2012 Democratic National Convention.[7]

Unconstitutional pension reductions[edit]

Senator Cullerton supported SB-1; a plan that amended state employee pension plans by drastically reducing the constitutionally protected benefits of Illinois state employees in retirement.[8] The Illinois Supreme Court ultimately found these legislative changes to be unconstitutional.[9]

As the Illinois Supreme Court ruling stated: "These modifications to pension benefits unquestionably diminish the value of the retirement annuities the members…were promised when they joined the pension system. Accordingly, based on the plain language of the Act, these annuity-reducing provisions contravene the pension protection clause's absolute prohibition against diminishment of pension benefits and exceed the General Assembly's authority," [10]

Since the rejection of the constitutionality of SB-1 Senator Cullerton has continued to support the reduction of pension benefits of Illinois State employees.


In May 2017, Cullerton led the state Senate Democrats in passing a bill that increased the state individual income tax from 3.75 to 4.95 percent, along with a number of tax increases on businesses. The tax increases, if signed into law, were projected to bring in $4.453 billion from individuals and another $1 billion from businesses.[11]


In May 2017, Cullerton intervened in a land dispute outside of his district when he advocated, on behalf of the Keefe Family Trust, to pave over a section of publicly owned wetland to build a 28 foot long driveway, which would require killing approximately 48 mature trees in a small old-growth forest.[12] Despite the opposition and objections of the Village of Wilmette, the City of Evanston,[13] the publicly operated Canal Shores Golf Course[14][15] and numerous community organizations [16] ,[17][18] Cullerton met with local officials on multiple occasions to argue in favor of a driveway to access a landlocked parcel so the Keefe Family Trust could build a subdivision of three houses. The parcel had been landlocked when the Keefe Family Trust purchased it.[19]

Professional career[edit]

Cullerton serves part-time as an Illinois state senator. Fagel Haber merged with Thompson Coburn LLP in 2007, and Cullerton continues as a partner [20] practicing in the areas of government relations, zoning, licensing, real estate tax assessment, and nonprofit law.

Personal life[edit]

Cullerton and his wife, Pam, have five children together: Maggie, John III, Garritt, Kyle, Josephine.[21]


  1. ^ Illinois Blue Book 1977-1978, page 90
  2. ^ Blagojevich oversees Senate swearing-in as impeachment trial looms, Chicago Tribune, Jan. 14, 2009.
  3. ^ Routliffe, Kathy. "Wilmette park board member threatens lawsuit after water district grants easement for road on Canal Shores Golf Course". Retrieved 2018-11-16.
  4. ^ Firm Profile.
  5. ^ "John Cullerton". Archived from the original on July 5, 2008. Retrieved 2008-12-16.
  6. ^ Rick Pearson and Ray Long Cullerton to lead Senate Chicago Tribune, November 20, 2008
  7. ^ Newman, Craig (2012-09-02). "Who are the Illinois delegates to the Democratic National Convention?". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on 2013-05-02. Retrieved 2012-09-06.
  8. ^
  9. ^ http://www.Chicago Archived 2013-07-28 at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^
  11. ^ "Champaign County taxpayers would pay an extra $48M if Democrats' tax hike becomes law". Chambana Sun. 2017-05-30. Retrieved 2018-01-09.
  12. ^ "Wilmette land owners want Evanston easement before building homes". Chicago Tribune. 2017-05-18. Retrieved 2018-10-17.
  13. ^ "Residents, Evanston and Wilmette oppose Canal Shores land easement". The Daily Northwestern. 2018-10-16. Retrieved 2018-10-17.
  14. ^ Don't Pave 10
  15. ^ "Canal Shores Golf Course Board Adamantly Opposes Proposed Roadway". Evanston Patch. 2018-10-05. Retrieved 2018-10-17.
  16. ^ Central Street Neighbors
  17. ^ "Officials block plan to build road through Isabella Woods". The Daily Northwestern. 2017-05-18. Retrieved 2018-10-17.
  18. ^ "Editorial: We Oppose an Easement to Build a Road Through Isabella Woods". Evanston RoundTable. 2017-05-17. Retrieved 2018-10-17.
  19. ^ "MWRD Board Rejects Isabella Woods Easement Request: A developer's decades-long push to gain access to landlocked property was blocked by a unanimous vote Thursday". Evanston Patch. 2017-05-19. Retrieved 2018-10-17.
  20. ^ Thompson Coburn Attorney Profile.
  21. ^ Transcript of Cullerton's Inaugural Speech, January 2008

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Emil Jones
President of the Illinois Senate