Capitol Fax.com - Your Illinois News Radar » *** UPDATED x1 *** State Board of Elections calls special meeting to discuss Sandvoss situation
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*** UPDATED x1 *** State Board of Elections calls special meeting to discuss Sandvoss situation

Monday, Apr 12, 2021

* Let’s start with this surprise press release on April 5…

On Monday, the eight members of the Illinois State Board of Elections voted unanimously to place Executive Director Steve Sandvoss on administrative leave after he reported being the victim of an online extortion attempt last week. Director Sandvoss reported the attempt to the Illinois State Police, which has begun an investigation.

Based on Director Sandvoss’ description, the attempted extortion scheme appeared typical of many such online scams.

However, because this attempt targeted a top official at the Illinois State Board of Elections, and out of an abundance of caution, the board has taken the cautionary step of placing Director Sandvoss on administrative leave. The board authorized Assistant Executive Director Bernadette Matthews to assume directorship at this time.

The board also authorized the agency’s Chief Information Security Officer, Jeremy Owens, to cooperate fully with the law enforcement investigation, as well as conduct an internal assessment of all SBE devices to which Director Sandvoss had access and ensure the security of the Board’s systems.

At this time, there is no reason to believe that any election data or information has been compromised. All further questions regarding the investigation should be addressed to the Illinois State Police at isp.pio.personnel@illinois.gov.

If you read the release closely, it looks like the board doesn’t believe that Sandvoss’ problems were state-related. But the probe is in the hands of the Illinois State Police, so the board isn’t 100 percent certain of what exactly happened. I-Team

However, what prompted the alleged extortion attempt they will not disclose, nor will they discuss the nature of the communication, what was being demanded of the state election director, whether it was made on a state computer or Sandvoss’s personal device, or what they are referring to by describing the attempted extortion as typical of many such online scams.

The Illinois State Police are investigating to determine who was behind this alleged extortion attempt, and how and why Sandvoss apparently became targeted.

State police officials told the I-Team that their investigation of the reported extortion “remains open and ongoing.”

* Anyway, the board has called a special meeting for this afternoon at 3 o’clock. Their only agenda item is an executive session. By law, the board has to summarize what went on during the executive session, so we’ll likely know more later today.

Somebody’s personal business is their own personal business, but Russian hackers targeted the board in 2016 and Sandvoss apparently has a security clearance, so he’s held to a much higher standard than if a low-level state worker got catfished, or whatever. Hopefully, the board clears this up today.

Sandvoss has been with the board since 2004.

*** UPDATE *** I was logged on to the Zoom meeting just in time to hear them adjourn. I asked Matt Dietrich what happened…

The board took no action today. So Steve remains on administrative leave.

What you got in the Zoom conference is exactly what I got.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

9 Comments
  1. - SpiDem - Monday, Apr 12, 21 @ 11:29 am:

    Feeling some big Ron Sandack energy here


  2. - Candy Dogood - Monday, Apr 12, 21 @ 11:37 am:

    I dream of a future where positions of public trust, power, and authority will be filled by people who don’t fall for online cat fishing schemes. Maybe someday I may dare to dream of public officials that are even immune to in person honeypot schemes, but we should learn to crawl before we try to walk.

    I’m making a lot of assumptions with that statement but at the very least it seems that Sandvoss did the right thing when he realized what was going on. Hopefully he did so swiftly.


  3. - allknowingmasterofraccoodom - Monday, Apr 12, 21 @ 11:37 am:

    Double down on the Sandack energy, but I really hope it isnt.


  4. - Cool Papa Bell - Monday, Apr 12, 21 @ 11:49 am:

    The sophistication that some of these schemes are impressive – even when they are random and sent out in a wide net. I have a hunch as to what might have been sent to him – and why it would freak you out. You don’t even have to “fall” for anything or anyone – you just have to have an email address and a guilty conscience.

    I’ve received a few emails that are written in a way to really give you pause, hoping that is the case here with Mr. Sandvoss.


  5. - Moe Berg - Monday, Apr 12, 21 @ 11:52 am:

    Will take it as a good sign that FBI and Homeland Security are not being mentioned, which makes it less likely that a foreign-state actor is involved.


  6. - ddp76 - Monday, Apr 12, 21 @ 11:54 am:

    It did sound weird that a victim would be put on leave when I first read the article. Figured I’d hear more down the road. And here we are.


  7. - Jocko - Monday, Apr 12, 21 @ 1:29 pm:

    ==dare to dream of public officials that are even immune==

    The fragility of male egos never ceases to amaze.


  8. - M - Monday, Apr 12, 21 @ 4:20 pm:

    Does Director Sandvoss’s administrative leave include full pay?


  9. - shocked - Monday, Apr 12, 21 @ 5:03 pm:

    ==Does Director Sandvoss’s administrative leave include full pay?==

    Depending on what hot water Sandvoss is in, what’s the recourse if the Board just keeps him on as a paid employee who isn’t doing work for months? Maybe this Sandvoss situation will shed some more light on the general administration from those 8 politicos


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