The Spin: FBI raids state Sen. Martin Sandoval’s government offices | Calls for Trump impeachment grow louder | Democratic presidential candidates backing CTU

Chicago Tribune Politics 1 month ago

FBI agents raided Democratic state Sen. Martin Sandoval’s government offices today as part of an ongoing criminal investigation, a source told the Tribune.

Agents were spotted leaving the state Capitol with a bag marked “Evidence." They also were active at Sandoval’s home in Chicago.

Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is expected to announce a formal impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump over Ukraine. Earlier, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois said he thought the House should move ahead with impeachment proceedings against Trump. Durbin says the recent allegation that Trump sought to have Ukraine investigate former Vice President Joe Biden “may be the straw that broke the camel’s back.”

And, as members of the Chicago Teachers Union over the next three days vote on whether to authorize a strike, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders will be in town tonight to appear at the union’s labor rally tonight. Sanders, of Vermont, is not the only Democratic presidential candidate siding with the teachers union. Former Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren also have tweeted their support for the teachers.

Welcome to The Spin.

The Associated Press is reporting that “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi plans to announce a formal impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump over allegations that he pressured the leader of Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden’s family.”

“The speaker had for months resisted calls to start the impeachment process. But the dynamic changed this week as more members of her caucus came out in support, including Democrats from swing districts, having been pushed to action by Trump’s phone call with Ukraine’s new leader and what he may or may not have said about corruption, frozen U.S. millions and Democratic rival Joe Biden.”

That comes after a growing number of lawmakers called for an impeachment inquiry into the president, including Illinois U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin. Read the AP coverage here.

The FBI led raids today at state Sen. Martin Sandoval’s office in the state capitol as well as his regional offices in the 5800 block of West 35th Street in Cicero, the source said. The exact nature of the investigation was not disclosed.

Agents were at Sandoval’s home today, as well as his offices in Springfield and Cicero.

At least eight men left the Senate Democratic offices in Springfield carrying two cardboard boxes, two brown bags labeled “evidence” and what appeared to be a desktop computer, wrapped in plastic. They loaded everything into two SUVs.

Officials would not say what the raid was about.

As Senate Transportation Committee chairman, Sandoval was positioned to play a key role in implementing the massive $45 billion construction program pushed through the General Assembly and signed into law by Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker earlier this year. Read the story from Jason Meisner, Jamie Munks and Ray Long here.

From the Tribune’s Munks and Dan Petrella: "Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul told lawmakers at a hearing Monday that he backs a ban on flavored vaping products but thinks the state’s efforts to combat vaping-related health issues need to be more comprehensive.

“Raoul said his office is undertaking a ‘comprehensive investigation’ into the effects of vaping as a rash of related lung illnesses and deaths have heightened concern over e-cigarettes. Many of the people suffering a vaping-related illness have reported using THC, the psychoactive compound in cannabis, so banning flavored products alone wouldn’t fully address the issue, Raoul noted.”

From the Tribune’s Hannah Leone, Chicago Teachers Union members start voting today on whether their leaders can call a strike. "If 75% say yes, the 800-member House of Delegates will gain the power to set a strike date. The union must give at least 10 days’ notice, so the soonest educators could go on strike is Oct. 7.

"The teachers’ vote comes as their support staff counterparts in Service Employees International Union Local 73 are also moving toward a strike, which could occur as early as Oct. 17. And on Monday, educators at Passages Charter School took a strike authorization vote, in the same calendar year of three other Chicago charter school strikes.

“Educators and paraprofessionals have taken up each other’s causes and shown up for each other’s news conferences, in turns pressuring the district to reduce class sizes, add staff, increase pay and benefits, and improve working conditions. That unity will be on display Tuesday, when Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders is to appear at a joint rally.”

Earlier this month, he tweeted: "I stand with the educators and support staff of @CTULocal1 and @SEIU73 in their fight for the schools Chicago’s students deserve. It’s unconscionable for wealthy corporations to receive massive tax breaks while children go without school nurses and librarians.”

Former Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren also have tweeted support for teachers.

“I’ve seen firsthand how hard America’s teachers and support staff work with little support and few resources. They deserve better. I’m proud to support Chicago’s educators as they fight for fair wages, full staffing, and smaller class sizes,” Biden tweeted

Democratic candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren tweeted over the weekend, “I stand shoulder to shoulder with the Chicago teachers making their voices heard to demand living wages, smaller class sizes, and all the things teachers need to do their jobs well." Read Leone’s full story here.

Former President Barack Obama mentioned on Twitter today that it’s National Voter Registration Day.

“On National Voter Registration Day, it’s up to us as citizens to make sure everyone we know can make their voices heard at the ballot box. Check and update your registration at — and tell your friends, too,” Obama tweeted.

The Tribune’s Javonte Anderson put together some info about what you need to know to vote in the 2020 election in Illinois. Read it here.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot hosted a discussion at the City Club today with Chicago State University President Zaldwaynaka “Z” Scott about the school’s future.

In recent years, the South Side university has experienced major financial problems and dwindling enrollment. But Scott, a former federal prosecutor and corporate attorney who was hired to head the school last year, has been tasked with turning around Chicago State’s fortunes.

Introducing Scott at a luncheon downtown, Lightfoot noted the two go way back, as Scott was once her boss at the U.S. attorney’s office. She also called Scott her “dear, dear friend.”

“My view is that Chicago State is critically important to the success of Chicago, particularly the South Side,” Lightfoot said.

The two engaged in a question-and-answer session, and at one point Lightfoot asked Scott about strategies to keep it up.

Scott said she’s tried to re-engage with Chicago Public Schools by hosting a dual enrollment program. Chicago State expected 20 students but got 50, Scott said.

“I can tell you, they were crashing the gates,” she said.

The school now has a weekend MBA program and also added outside-the-classroom tutoring to help make sure students are successful, Scott said.

Lightfoot and Scott also talked about equity.

“Opportunity shouldn’t be determined by your ZIP code,” Scott said, echoing a point often made by the mayor. (Gregory Pratt)

Thanks for reading The Spin, the Tribune’s politics newsletter. Sign up here to have it delivered to your inbox weekday afternoons.

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