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Sandoval’s the one under the gun now

Monday, Sep 30, 2019

* My weekly syndicated newspaper column

At about the same time last week, Chicago-based investigators with the FBI and the IRS swooped into Democratic Sen. Marty Sandoval’s district office, Statehouse office and home residence, removing boxes of documents and seizing computers.

Last November, the feds launched a simultaneous raid of super-powerful Chicago Ald. Ed Burke’s city and ward offices, but they didn’t raid the man’s house.

So, yeah, this is definitely serious stuff. Imagine the evidence the feds had to provide to the Justice Department headquarters and to a federal judge in order to pursue and then obtain a sweeping warrant like that one. You don’t get permission to do all that for a simple fishing expedition, or because the target’s kid got a job or merely to convince the dude to flip on somebody else.

The Tribune reported that Sandoval may have steered business to “at least one company in exchange for kickbacks.” The coordinated federal raids didn’t exactly surprise many Statehouse types. One lobbyist said he was with seven colleagues the day of the raid, and they all claimed to have an unsavory Marty Sandoval story. Another was with 17 colleagues, and all but two had a story about Sandoval, um, “asking” them for various things in exchange for helping them with their legislative agendas.

Officials with the Senate Democrats and the Illinois Secretary of State said they did not have copies of federal warrants, which would be helpful to figure out what the feds were after. That’s somewhat surprising because the Secretary of State controls the Statehouse and the Senate Democrats control their own office suites. Senators themselves do not technically control their offices. The federal agents reportedly showed their warrant to the SoS police when they arrived at the north entrance and then presented it to an employee near or in Sandoval’s unlocked, open office, but no copy was apparently kept.

Nobody knows whether the raids were an outgrowth of current investigations or whether somebody flipped on him or if an irate civilian lodged a complaint. Ald. Burke, for example, got in trouble partly because he allegedly tried to shake down a regular guy who took umbrage.

Sandoval is not only the Senate Transportation Committee chairman, but he is also a member of leadership as the majority caucus whip.

Senate President John Cullerton has refused to remove Sandoval from either position. He’s even said nobody is sure whether the feds are really after Sandoval (which is kind of preposterous because, while the feds can definitely display a mean streak, they’re not gonna raid an elected official’s offices and home because they’re going after another person).

Sandoval hasn’t been charged with anything yet, and we don’t even know what the feds were really after here. They’ve since raided or visited three small towns in Sandoval’s district.

But Cullerton’s stance is not going over well with several members of his caucus. Cullerton has elected as many suburban PTA types as he could over the years, and those folks tend to be squeaky clean people who ran for office to do squeaky clean things. They most definitely did not come to Springfield to defend this kind of stuff.

Sandoval has been on the outs with House Speaker Michael Madigan and his team for years. The feud reached a fever pitch last year when Madigan sided with Congressman Chuy Garcia’s organization and successfully backed Alma Anaya against Sandoval’s daughter Angie for Garcia’s Cook County Board seat.

Madigan’s “general,” 13th Ward Ald. Marty Quinn, reportedly wanted to take Sandoval himself out, but that plan was nixed. Even so, after last year’s conflict and the resulting extreme bad blood, people close to Madigan’s organization figured Sen. Sandoval would eventually be placed on the Garcia/Madigan hit list.

Sandoval prepared for that impending battle partly by raising lots of money and launching a massive play for publicity.

Among other things, Sandoval placed himself at the center of this spring’s effort to pass an infrastructure bill, holding high-profile hearings around the state and making impossible-to-ignore comments to locals about how they needed to get behind specific tax hikes if they wanted their project money. He’s reported raising $263K in campaign contributions since July 1. But a recent fundraiser got him more publicity than he bargained for when a photo was posted online of an attendee “shooting” a tequila “gun” at a person dressed as President Trump.

And now he’s the one under the gun.

* Related…

* Editorial: Before Illinois spends $45 billion on highways and bridges, Sandoval should hit the road

* Here a raid, there a raid, everywhere there’s a fed raid

* Investigations begin to touch Illinois House Speaker Madigan’s confidants

- Posted by Rich Miller        

24 Comments
  1. - midway gardens - Monday, Sep 30, 19 @ 8:57 am:

    == [Cullerton] even said nobody is sure whether the feds are really after Sandoval

    There is none so blind as he who will not see.


  2. - Steve - Monday, Sep 30, 19 @ 9:02 am:

    Marty is a colorful guy . Many people have Marty stories. Probably some of the Marty stories may get more well known.


  3. - Gone - Monday, Sep 30, 19 @ 9:11 am:

    His twitter account is gone too


  4. - LINK - Monday, Sep 30, 19 @ 9:14 am:

    I know I am naive but it struck me that so many people (Lobsters (sp?)) stated off the record that they experienced what sounds like quid pro quo exchanges with Sandoval and none of them it (appears) brought it to authorities. I guess we will find out as it unfolds if they were enablers, refusers or cooperators…


  5. - JennaM - Monday, Sep 30, 19 @ 9:21 am:

    It seems like they were laundering money through legitimate businesses


  6. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Sep 30, 19 @ 9:30 am:

    Rich, great read, you write the backstory that many others miss. Thank you, always, for that.

    To the post,

    Starting here;

    ===Sandoval has been on the outs with House Speaker Michael Madigan and his team for years. The feud reached a fever pitch last year when Madigan sided with Congressman Chuy Garcia’s organization and successfully backed Alma Anaya against Sandoval’s daughter Angie for Garcia’s Cook County Board seat.

    Madigan’s “general,” 13th Ward Ald. Marty Quinn, reportedly wanted to take Sandoval himself out, but that plan was nixed. Even so, after last year’s conflict and the resulting extreme bad blood, people close to Madigan’s organization figured Sen. Sandoval would eventually be placed on the Garcia/Madigan hit list.

    Sandoval prepared for that impending battle partly by raising lots of money and launching a massive play for publicity===

    Why is this important? Easy.

    While others want to make things about Madigan and “everyone is his minion” or “this must be a Burke thing”, sometimes it could be as simple as *surviving* Madigan’s wrath and their own corruption to try to survive it.

    If anything, this “spinoff” was no spinoff at all once the unraveling began and while not a soul has been indicted, arrested, arraigned, and the preverbal presser hasn’t happened, these serious chain of events aren’t that much of a shock to those who “know of” Marty.

    To that;

    ===Sandoval hasn’t been charged with anything yet, and we don’t even know what the feds were really after here. They’ve since raided or visited three small towns in Sandoval’s district.

    But Cullerton’s stance is not going over well with several members of his caucus. Cullerton has elected as many suburban PTA types as he could over the years, and those folks tend to be squeaky clean people who ran for office to do squeaky clean things. They most definitely did not come to Springfield to defend this kind of stuff.===

    Guilt or indictment or even these raids, Sandoval should know to step down from his chairmanship and the senate president should publicly insist if Marty decides to stay mum. It’s not just the SDem caucus or the senate chamber that deserves better, it’s Illinois.

    Lastly, Burke might get crowned by Burger King anger, Sandoval, we have no idea who led the charge to seek the raids of Marty and Co. You allegedly shake down so many folks on a continual basis, the odds say one might have a beef, and had enough, and dropping the dime seems inevitable?

    You’d think it would be an elaborate scam, but many times it’s pure greed or simple grift that sinks in the end.


  7. - Charlie Brown - Monday, Sep 30, 19 @ 9:30 am:

    It is possible the feds started taking a closer look at Sandoval’s cash flow following the fundraising event featuring Trump mask and tequila gun. If so, it could be the most expensive tequila shot ever.


  8. - Amalia - Monday, Sep 30, 19 @ 9:42 am:

    the only question I have is, like before, will the road lead to Victor? It did not before. but the man was behind so many curtains.


  9. - Levois J - Monday, Sep 30, 19 @ 9:43 am:

    Wow! There is a lot of drama to read about. Typical political rivalries, a caucus full of clean people, lobbyists who have their own stories, and then the raids by the feds. Why do I get the feeling we might have one more vacant state senate seat in the future.


  10. - Blue Dog Dem - Monday, Sep 30, 19 @ 10:04 am:

    Maybe we only need half of the capital bill.


  11. - Soothsayer - Monday, Sep 30, 19 @ 10:04 am:

    Marty is no fan of Sandoval. Marty’s brother, Kevin, was raided a while back possibly related to the Burke probe. Sandoval’s questionable side gig (translator services of some sort that may or may not amount to anything) is quite well known in political circles. Is it that much of a stretch to wonder whether Kevin pointed the feds to Sandoval? Why flip on your friends when there is so much to be gained by flipping on your foes?


  12. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Sep 30, 19 @ 10:07 am:

    ===Maybe we only need half of the capital bill.===

    You pick which half.

    Good luck.


  13. - DuPage Saint - Monday, Sep 30, 19 @ 10:25 am:

    It would be nice if there was some type of time limit for indicting. Say 180 days or certainly a year after the raids. If the Feds raid you and cannot indicted you they should come out and say we found nothing. 4 years after ceasing Dorthy Brown and nothing? The statute of limitations must have run


  14. - Blue Dog Dem - Monday, Sep 30, 19 @ 10:47 am:

    How can I find out the dollar amount of IDOT money that entities under control of the Asphalt King receives in a given year.


  15. - dying HDO - Monday, Sep 30, 19 @ 10:52 am:

    –the only question I have is, like before, will the road lead to Victor? It did not before. but the man was behind so many curtains.

    it DID lead to victor before during the sorich trial. according toe sorich’s indictment, he was an unindicted co-conspirator. the feds chose (for whatever reason) not to indict him.

    perhaps he is pretty helpful to the feds in some way.


  16. - Juvenal - Monday, Sep 30, 19 @ 11:25 am:

    === Is it that much of a stretch to wonder whether Kevin pointed the feds to Sandoval? ===

    Yes.


  17. - JennaM - Monday, Sep 30, 19 @ 11:43 am:

    The feds need to start looking where all the money was coming from and going to. He was probably laundering the kickbacks through their companies


  18. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Sep 30, 19 @ 11:44 am:

    ===was probably===

    No one knows that.

    Let’s wait and see what does transpire


  19. - Blue Dog Dem - Monday, Sep 30, 19 @ 12:38 pm:

    In the spirit of political correctness, i think we can come up with a different post headline. Under the gun is offending me.


  20. - TLC - Monday, Sep 30, 19 @ 1:10 pm:

    John Cullerton painted himself into a corner by not completely stripping Tom Cullerton of any chairmanship when he got indicted. If he doesn’t handle Sandoval with similar kid gloves, Prez Cullerton opens himself up to playing favorites.


  21. - Blue Dog Dem - Monday, Sep 30, 19 @ 1:18 pm:

    TLC. “Playing favorites” or “paying favorites”?


  22. - Angry Chicagoan - Monday, Sep 30, 19 @ 1:42 pm:

    I must confess I didn’t know much about Sandoval before this year. His faux populism over the electric vehicle tax did not sit will with me at all. Nothing like demonizing a small group of people to defer making a real decision about infrastructure funding. TLC’s note above about Cullerton’s caucus management is well taken and will cause Springfield Dems real problems in managing this scandal.


  23. - G'Kar - Monday, Sep 30, 19 @ 2:24 pm:

    ==Sandoval has been on the outs with House Speaker Michael Madigan and his team for years.==

    Yet that didn’t stop one of our local TV reporters referring to Sandoval as “one of Madigan’s close allies.”


  24. - NorthsideNoMore - Tuesday, Oct 1, 19 @ 9:36 am:

    This is serious stuff he is facing but he is the type to double down on being Marty.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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