* I broke this story on Monday for subscribers. The Champaign News-Gazette followed up with more details…
The head of the Douglas County Democratic Party is under investigation for accepting campaign contributions from a company that he oversees as a state official.
Michael L. Woods Sr., of Tuscola, has been moved to another position in the Department of Natural Resources by Director Marc Miller. Woods, an IDNR employees since 2004, is being investigated for taking a total of $14,000 in 2012 and 2013 from Foresight Energy Services of St. Louis.
Foresight is a coal mining company with operations at four Illinois sites.
In addition to being chairman of the Douglas County Democratic Party, Woods is acting director of the Office of Mines and Minerals at the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. As such, he is a chief regulator of mining operations in the state.
Campaign disclosure records show that Foresight last August gave $10,000 to the Douglas County Democrats, a highly unusual sum given that the organization generally had no more than $4,000 on hand.
Within a few days of Foresight’s $10,000 donation to the Douglas County Democrats, officials disbursed much of it to Democratic candidates and other party organizations outside of Douglas County.
The largest sum — $5,000 — went to Gov. Pat Quinn’s re-election campaign. Another $1,200 went to the Illinois Democratic County Chairmen’s Association. And $250 went to the campaign fund of state Sen. Mike Frerichs, D-Champaign.
The Douglas County Democrats also gave $1,000 to the campaign fund of Tony Mayville, a Democratic candidate for the Illinois House in the 115th District in southern Illinois. Mayville is a state mine safety officer for IDNR.
* You may recognize the name of Tony Mayville. He’s the DNR employee who was suspended for also taking contributions from those same mining interests.
* The Illinois GOP rightly called on Gov. Quinn and Sen. Frerichs to return the tainted cash. From a press release…
Gov. Pat Quinn and State Sen. Mike Frerichs, both candidates for statewide election, found themselves caught up this week in an investigation involving campaign contributions and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
“After all the damage that’s been done to our state’s reputation on ethics, you’d think Gov. Quinn and Sen. Frerichs would know better,” said Andrew Welhouse, communications director for the Illinois Republican Party. “At the very least, both Gov. Quinn and Sen. Frerichs need to return this tainted cash immediately, and any other contributions they’ve had funneled to them in a similar way.” […]
“Illinois deserves better than this,” Welhouse said. “Gov. Quinn shouldn’t stand for his public employees using their taxpayer-funded jobs to grease the wheels of the Democrats’ campaign operation. And why should the taxpayers trust Mike Frerichs with their tax dollars if he’s not even willing to separate himself from this kind of scandal?”