* 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 email@example.com.
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.