An SUV driven “nearly exclusively” by Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle’s security chief was improperly used to transport political materials, Inspector General Patrick Blanchard concluded in a report released Monday.
Blanchard’s finding is the result of an investigation into a bizarre incident during the early morning hours following the 2016 election, when a Chevy Tahoe assigned to Preckwinkle’s security team was discovered abandoned near suburban Lemont. On that Election Day, the security chief drove Preckwinkle to campaign events, but said he did so in his personal car, according to the report.
A sheriff’s police officer found the vehicle stuck in the mud with its engine still warm, and a witness told police that the driver had abandoned the Tahoe and walked away, Blanchard said in his report.
All the tires were slashed, as was the driver’s seat, the center console and the dashboard, Blanchard said. The car’s rear cargo area contained bags of political literature, a button adorned with an image of Preckwinkle’s face and a dry cleaning receipt bearing the telephone number belonging to her chief of security, Delwin Gadlen, according to the report, which identified Gadlen only by his title. In the report, the security chief is quoted saying that the vehicle was stolen, but the alleged theft was never reported to police, Blanchard said.
Blanchard’s investigators spoke to sheriff and county officials with “significant experience in law enforcement” and executive protection who said the damage in the vehicle “appears inconsistent with damage typically associated with vehicle theft.”
Instead, the damage “looked hurried and staged where it appeared to have been done all at once, in the same manner and primarily in close proximity to the driver’s seat,” they said, according to Blanchard. All keys to the vehicle are accounted for and there were no signs of the car being forcibly started, the report said.
* Speaking of the Cook County Inspector General, this is from the county assessor’s office…
Because the Assessor’s Office promised Capitol Fax all information and facts we learned regarding why we never received a copy of the report from the Office of the Cook County Independent Inspector General, here are the results of our review, which concluded yesterday.
The Inspector General emailed the Assessor’s Office copy of the report to the wrong e-address. It is that simple. In fact, the Inspector General sent it to an e-address not on the Assessor’s Office domain/email server. Every one of our email addresses ends in “@cookcountyassessor.com.” The Inspector General later told us he used “@cookcountyil.gov.”
The Inspector General has acknowledged using the wrong email domain to contact the Assessor’s Office in this instance. This problem would have been somewhat offset if the Inspector General’s office had delivered the hard copy. That also never occurred.
The Inspector General graciously introduced me to the employee who delivered all hard copies. He also provided the specific delivery location and a one-hour window in which that was done here. However, two viewings of Assessor’s Office security video for a 1.5 hour period including that hour showed nothing was delivered and the Inspector General’s employee was not here.
After he was informed of those facts, the Inspector General’s Office found the envelope (unopened) this week. It was located in an Inspector General’s inbox, two floors above the Assessor’s Office, in an office area unrelated to our work. The Inspector General believes it was initially “likely misdelivered,” and we certainly agree.
We originally stated the Assessor’s Office never possessed a copy of the Inspector General’s report, in electronic or hard copy form, before the Chicago Sun-Times published it and other media called us. We now add that the Inspector General acknowledges our statements were and are correct. Thank you.
* Wide range of shocking behavior by city workers fills inspector general’s report