John Lausch will continue as Chicago’s top federal prosecutor a little longer.
Illinois’ two U.S. senators say in a statement Tuesday they are “pleased” President Joe Biden’s administration will allow the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois to remain in place until a successor is confirmed by the Senate.
Biden had planned to replace almost every U.S. Attorney in the country. But Sens. Tammy Duckworth and Dick Durbin, who is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, lobbied the president to make an exception for Lausch — whose office is leading a sweeping corruption investigation.
A source with knowledge of the decision who is not authorized to speak about it publicly confirmed the decision to WBEZ.
“Mr. Lausch has served with professionalism and without partisanship,” Durbin and Duckworth wrote in a joint statement. “While the President has the right to remove U.S. Attorneys, there is precedent for U.S. Attorneys in the Northern District of Illinois to remain in office to conclude sensitive investigations. After our repeated calls, we appreciate that Mr. Lausch will be given this opportunity.”
A spokesman for Lausch’s office did not immediately comment on the senators’ statement.
Federal prosecutors in Chicago have notably been conducting a sweeping corruption investigation into the power company Commonwealth Edison’s lobbying activities. Last year, ComEd admitted it embarked on a years-long effort to bribe former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan in exchange for favorable legislation.
Madigan does not face any criminal charges.
But his confidante, former ComEd lobbyist Michael McClain, was indicted for his role in the scheme. He’s pleaded not guilty and the investigation remains ongoing.
Even though he faces no charges, the investigation was enough to convince more than a dozen Illinois House Democrats to deny Madigan another term as speaker. After his defeat at the hands of his fellow Democrats, Madigan resigned from the House of Representatives and as chairman of the Democratic Party of Illinois.
Federal prosecutors also indicted powerful Chicago Ald. Ed Burke, alleging he used his office for personal gain. Burke has pleaded not guilty, but the indictment was a significant factor in the 2019 campaign for Chicago mayor. Lausch was appointed U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois in 2017 with bipartisan support. It is common for new presidents to appoint their own U.S. attorneys.
Tony Arnold covers Illinois politics for WBEZ. Follow him @tonyjarnold.