Rockford, Illinois News

Head of Illinois State Board of Elections target of extortion probe

Steve Sandvoss has been placed on paid leave.

SPRINGFIELD — On the eve of local consolidated elections across the state, the Illinois State Board of Elections announced its executive director was the target of an attempted extortion scheme and was put on paid leave.

“On Monday, the eight members of the Illinois State Board of Elections voted unanimously to place Executive Director Steve Sandvoss on administrative leave after he reported being the victim of an online extortion attempt last week,” the Board of Elections said a statement Monday evening. “Director Sandvoss reported the attempt to the Illinois State Police, which has begun an investigation.”

Because the scheme targeted a top official, the board said it placed Sandvoss on administrative leave “out of an abundance of caution.”

Assistant Executive Director Bernadette Matthew is assuming directorship at this time, the board said. There are also orders for the agency’s chief information security officer to fully cooperate with law enforcement investigating the matter, and to assess all devices Sandvoss may have used.

“At this time, there is no reason to believe that any election data or information has been compromised,” the board said.

ISBE oversees elections in Illinois, though each election jurisdiction runs its own operations. Consolidated elections for seats in taxing bodies like school boards, villages and more are on the ballot throughout the state of Illinois on Tuesday.