Feds searched state Sen. Martin Sandoval’s office for information on businesses, lobbyists, public officials

Chicago Tribune Politics 2 months ago

Federal agents who raided the state Capitol office of Sen. Martin Sandoval last week were looking for information related to concrete and construction businesses, lobbyists, and public officials, and “items related to any official action taken in exchange for a benefit,” according to documents released Tuesday by the Illinois Senate.

Agents seized numerous computers, cellphones, hard drives, invoices and a spreadsheet from Sandoval’s campaign fund, according to a heavily redacted search warrant and related documents obtained by the Chicago Tribune through an open-records request.

The documents reference 20 individuals: six Illinois Department of Transportation officials, two lobbyists, one municipality president, one municipality attorney, one construction company official, two highway company officials, three people referred to as “associates” of an unnamed entity, and four people listed as “officials”

Sandoval, a Chicago Democrat who chairs the powerful Transportation Committee, has not responded to requests for comment on the Sept. 24 raids by FBI and IRS criminal division agents of his Capitol and district offices as well as his Southwest Side home and has not been charged with any wrongdoing.

The search warrant shows federal investigators were interested in Sandoval’s company and its clients. The name of the business is blacked out.

Sandoval’s statement of economic interest, filed with the secretary of state, shows he owns a company called Puentes, which does work for clients including the town of Cicero. The firm translates press releases into Spanish.

A source with knowledge of the case told the Chicago Tribune last week that investigators are looking into allegations that Sandoval used his public office to steer business to at least one company in exchange for kickbacks.

The same day Sandoval’s offices were raided, FBI agents visited the Bartlett headquarters of Bluff City Materials, one of several companies tied to businessman Michael Vondra. Vondra and his businesses have been major campaign contributors to Sandoval and other politicians, state campaign finance records show.

On Thursday, federal agents raided the village halls in west suburban McCook and Lyons and “conducted investigative activity” at the village hall in nearby Summit. All three towns are in Sandoval’s 11th Senate District, and Vondra and his companies also have been major contributors to McCook Village President and Cook County Commissioner Jeff Tobolski and Lyons Village President Christopher Getty and his political party.

In addition to the village hall raids, federal agents searched a number of nonpublic entities last week, a source with knowledge of the investigation told the Tribune last week.

Senate President John Cullerton, a fellow Chicago Democrat, has said he needs more information about what investigators were looking for and whether it’s connected to Sandoval’s role in the Senate before making any decisions about his committee position.

dpetrella@chicagotribune.com

jmunks@chicagotribune.com

jmeisner@chicagotribune.com


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