Federal agents zero in on another powerful Chicago politician. Our politics team of Paris Schutz, Amanda Vinicky and Carol Marin discuss that and more in this week’s Spotlight Politics.
It’s become almost commonplace: FBI agents raiding an Illinois politician’s office in broad daylight.
On Tuesday, it was state Sen. Marty Sandoval, a Democrat raised in the Back of the Yards neighborhood who since 2003 has represented a swath of southwest Chicago.
Media witnessed law enforcement at Sandoval’s state capitol office, his district office in Cicero and his home in Gage Park.
While there was no official comment from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, some media outlets have reported that the feds are investigating whether Sandoval, who chairs the Senate transportation committee, used his elected office to steer business to a company in exchange for kickbacks.
No criminal charges have been filed.
Sandoval is not the only state Senator in the feds’ crosshairs.
Prosecutors in early August indicted Sen. Tom Cullerton of Villa Park on 40 counts of embezzlement. The U.S. attorney’s office alleges Cullerton, who has been a legislator since 2013, got a salary and benefits from the Teamsters union despite doing little or no work. Cullerton in mid-August pleaded not guilty.
His spokeswoman that day issued a statement saying only “today is another step in seeking justice for Mr. Cullerton. He will continue to fight these untrue allegations in court until his name is cleared.”
Cullerton was reassigned as chair of the chamber’s labor committee to instead chair Veterans Affairs.
Asked about Sandoval on Wednesday, Illinois Senate President John Cullerton (a distant cousin of Tom Cullerton) took a wait-and-see approach.
Meaning that for now, an ethical cloud over the state Senate may be darker.
But Sandoval, like Sen. Tom Cullerton, will retain a committee chairmanship that comes with an extra $10,500 on top of a legislator’s regular salary.