State Sen. Martin Sandoval, the Chicago Democrat whose statehouse offices were raided by federal agents in September, is resigning his legislative seat effective with the new year, State Board of Elections officials said Wednesday.
Sandoval, in his 16th year as a state lawmaker, had previously resigned his chairmanship of the powerful Senate Transportation Committee. He has been a member of the leadership team of Senate President John Cullerton, who is retiring in January.
“It is with a heavy heart, I, Martin A. Sandoval, do hereby resign the office of state senator” effective Jan. 1 at 12:01 p.m., Sandoval, who has not responded to requests for comments since the raids, said in a letter to the office of the secretary of the Illinois Senate.
“Respect for my constituents and the Senate convinced me that this action is necessary in order to proceed without distraction to the important work that needs to be accomplished for working families throughout the state of Illinois in the future,” Sandoval wrote.
Federal agents raided Sandoval’s Springfield office on Sept. 24 with a search warrant seeking a vast array of information involving construction, transportation and power company officials, lobbyists, gambling interests, a red-light camera company and at least three suburban mayors. Agents also were at his Cicero office and his home. The Sandoval raid was quickly followed by federal law enforcement actions in McCook, Lyons and Summit — all towns in the senator’s district.
Records show the FBI also has been investigating Cook County Commissioner and McCook Mayor Jeff Tobolski and Lyons Mayor Chris Getty.
The Tribune previously reported that agents visited Bluff City Materials, a Bartlett sand and gravel operation owned by a major Sandoval donor, and that his connections to Commonwealth Edison — where his daughter, Angie, has worked as a senior account representative — have also been probed.
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Sandoval has not been charged with any wrongdoing as a result of the investigation. The scope of information being sought in the search warrant indicates a widespread probe involving areas that have long been ripe for corruption, such as road building and gambling.
The raid also was the latest action by federal agents investigating corruption nearly a year ago when FBI agents descended upon the City Hall offices of Ald. Edward Burke, Chicago’s longest-serving City Council member and the then-powerful chairman of its Finance Committee.
While there has been no indication that the raid on Burke was connected to the later Sandoval raid, the action of federal investigators has unnerved many Democrats.
In addition to Burke, who has pleaded not guilty to corruption charges, federal agents have separately indicted state Sen. Tom Cullerton, D-Villa Park, over an allegedly no-show union job, and former state Rep. Luis Arroyo, D-Chicago, over allegedly attempting to bribe a state senator to support gambling-related legislation. Arroyo resigned after his indictment.
State Sen. Terry Link, D-Vernon Hills, has been identified by a Tribune source as a cooperating witness against Arroyo, but he has adamantly denied it.
Democratic ward and township committeemen in Sandoval’s Senate district have 30 days to name a replacement to fill his seat after his resignation takes effect. The rest of his term, which runs through January 2023, will be filled by the winner of an election to be held concurrent with the state primary and November general election.
The State Board of Elections will hold a special filing period Dec. 3 through Dec. 9 for candidates wishing to run in the March 17 primary for Sandoval’s 11th District. The winners in the primary go on to run in the Nov. 3 general election. The winner of that contest would take office Dec. 7, when the election results are certified.