Sandoval resigns Senate seat under federal investigation

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) — State Sen. Martin Sandoval, a Chicago Democrat who recently chaired the Senate Transportation Committee and advocated for doubling the states gas tax to fund a $45 billion capital infrastructure plan, announced his resignation in a letter to the Illinois State Board of Elections Wednesday.

Sandoval announced his resignation “with a heavy heart,” he wrote, out of “respect for my constituents and the Senate.”

He had recently stepped down from heading the Transportation Committee, but only announced his departure from the legislature three days into the petition filing period for candidates to run for his seat. 

FBI agents raided Sandoval’s home and government offices in Cicero and Springfield in September. Search warrants later revealed that federal agents were pursuing Sandoval‘s communication with asphalt companies, state workers at the Department of Transportation, gambling companies, utility powerhouses ComEd and Exelon, a red light camera company, and a number of other lobbyists and local governments. The FBI remains actively involved in a corruption investigation, but at the time of this report, none of those entities have yet been named in charging documents. 

Sandoval‘s departure will come roughly two weeks before the Senate elects its next president in the wake of President John Cullerton’s sudden exit. Earlier this week, a spokeswoman for Governor JB Pritzker said that because Sandoval was “subject to federal raids,” that he “should not participate in selecting the next Senate President,” as it “would taint the outcome of that election.”

During the interim, local party officials from the 11th Senate District will appoint Sandoval‘s temporary replacement. That process could take place before the vote for Senate President, although the deadline to fill the vacancy is January 30th, weeks after the Senate vote. 

Meanwhile, a more permanent replacement will be decided at the ballot box. Whichever candidate wins election for Sandoval’s seat in 2020 will be sworn in starting in 2021, and will stay in place for the remainder of his current term, which ends at the close of 2022. 

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