Illinois Senate President Withholds Key Details Of Federal Raid On State Sen. Martin Sandoval
Updated at 7 p.m.
Illinois Senate President John Cullerton on Tuesday released a federal search warrant related to last week’s FBI raid of Democratic state Sen. Martin Sandoval’s legislative offices, but virtually every key detail about what agents seized from Sandoval’s statehouse office was blacked out.
According to the warrant, federal agents justified the seizure of Sandoval’s state offices last Tuesday as they investigated whether the state senator violated seven federal statutes, including conspiracy, mail fraud and even a section of the U.S. Code called “interference with commerce by threats or violence.” Sandoval has not been charged with wrongdoing.
But the eight-page search warrant and attachment make clear the federal investigators are engaged in a massive investigation.
It includes Sandoval’s own business dealings, multiple lobbyists, concrete and construction companies, an unnamed municipality’s village president and attorney, an unnamed foundation, a political-action committee and multiple state transportation officials.
But virtually every identifying feature associated with those entities was blacked out by Cullerton’s lawyers.
“Decisions were guided by an attorney general’s opinion, case law and discussions with the investigative authorities,” Cullerton spokesman John Patterson said in a statement.
Despite the apparent focus on state transportation matters, Cullerton has thus far avoided stripping Sandoval of his chairmanship of the powerful Senate Transportation Committee.
Patterson did not directly respond to a question about whether the redactions by Cullerton’s office were aimed at sparing Sandoval from potential politically embarrassing details in the search warrant.
The FBI raids last week included searches of not only Sandoval’s office in Springfield but also his district office in Cicero and his home. Authorities have declined to comment on why they raided those places or what they found.
Investigators wound up taking computer equipment from Sandoval’s office, a December 2017 spreadsheet marked “Friends of Martin Sandoval;" a political fundraising committee; shredded paper; a file with the title “IDOT,” an apparent reference to the Illinois Department of Transportation, and records relating to Cicero.
A spokeswoman for Democratic Gov. JB Pritzker said Tuesday the governor’s aides do not know who those IDOT employees are and that the feds have neither subpoenaed nor raided the state agency.
What little was not deleted by Cullerton’s office suggests that the feds are interested in “any business owned or controlled by Martin Sandoval” and their clients.
On his economic-disclosure forms, the only outside business Sandoval has reported owning is Puentes Inc., a public-relations firm that has done business with the town of Cicero and the North Berwyn Park District, according to state records.
Election board records show Puentes also has worked for the political committee of Jeff Tobolski, a Democratic Cook County commissioner and mayor of McCook – one of three southwest suburbs whose village halls were visited Thursday by the feds.
Investigators who raided Sandoval’s office also were seeking “items related to” five unnamed officials of the Illinois Department of Transportation.
And the documents show that authorities also were interested in unidentified companies involved in the construction, highway and concrete businesses.
On Friday, WBEZ reported that the federal raids last week included a visit on Tuesday to the offices in Bartlett of asphalt magnate Michael Vondra, who long has been a major political backer of Sandoval.