Cook County Board’s Tobolski Quits Committees Amid Federal Corruption Probe

McCook Mayor Jeffrey R. Tobolski
McCook Mayor Jeffrey R. Tobolski

Cook County Board’s Tobolski Quits Committees Amid Federal Corruption Probe

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Facing federal scrutiny, Cook County Commissioner Jeffrey Tobolski has quit leadership roles on various government committees after Board President Toni Preckwinkle asked for his immediate resignation.

The Democrat from tiny south suburban McCook, where he’s also the mayor, had his village hall raided by the FBI in late September. Agents sought any records on heating and air conditioning at Tobolski’s home, according to court documents obtained by WBEZ.

Tobolski has not been charged with wrongdoing.

He stepped down Wednesday from his roles as chairman of the County Board’s Homeland Security and Emergency Management Committee; Technology and Innovation Committee; and Veterans Committee. He was also vice chairman of the Labor Committee.

Tobolski has also resigned as chairman of the Audit and Zoo committees, and as vice chairman of the Labor Committee on the board of the Forest Preserve District of Cook County. The same commissioners sit on both the county and the forest preserve district boards.

“Your service to these Committees has been appreciated; however, in order to move forward with the Committee process and County business, it is in the best interest of the County to have Committee Chairs and Vice-Chairs whom are able to be present and participatory in the legislative process,” Preckwinkle wrote to Tobolski in a Nov. 12 letter obtained by WBEZ.

Tobolski resigned on Nov. 13. He blamed “current health issues” for his absence.

In an interview, Carlos Aparicio, his chief legal counsel, said Tobolski does not plan to resign from the County or Forest Preserve District boards and that his resignation is not related to a federal probe.

Tobolski has been a commissioner since 2010. He represents the west and southwest suburbs, stretching from Franklin Park to Justice.

Tobolski’s resignation comes as federal agents have ramped up several corruption investigations that have touched all levels of Illinois government.

In a series of coordinated actions in late September, the FBI raided not only McCook, but also hit village halls in south suburban Lyons and Summit. Just two days prior, agents executed a rare broad daylight raid on the state Capitol offices of State Sen. Martin Sandoval, D-Chicago, searching for information related to dozens of people and entities.

The raid at the village hall of McCook – an industrial community where only about 220 people live – targeted the office of Tobolski, and records show agents took two computer servers belonging to him.

But McCook officials originally had sought to hide many names of people and companies from a copy of the search warrant they gave to reporters in response to requests made under the state’s open-records law. WBEZ and the Chicago Sun-Times sued McCook to win access to the blacked-out sections of the search warrant

The U.S. Attorney’s office in Chicago has also launched a sprawling probe into the lobbying activities at power company Commonwealth Edison and its parent, Exelon. WBEZ was first to report the feds are investigating whether ComEd hired several politically-connected contractors in exchange for favorable government actions, including rate increases.

Though the fall is seen an unusual flurry of federal activity, it’s unclear how - or if - the various investigations overlap.

Tobolski has not been charged with wrongdoing, and neither have any other south suburban figures connected to the late September raids. No one has yet been charged in relation to the government’s investigation into ComEd.

Kristen Schorsch covers Cook County politics for WBEZ. Follow her @kschorsch. Alex Keefe is the senior editor of government and politics at WBEZ. Follow him @akeefe.