State Board of Election Director on Paid Leave During Extortion Investigation

By Benjamin Cox on April 16, 2021 at 1:57pm

Illinois’ top election official remains on paid administrative leave nearly a week after he told police he was the subject of an attempted extortion scheme.

According to a news release on April 5th, the 8-member State Board of Elections voted to place Steve Sandvoss on leave out of an abundance of caution during the course of an investigation into the alleged scheme.

According to the State Journal-Register, the 55-year-old Sandvoss is a resident of Rochester and former election lawyer who has been the top official at the state agency since 2015 and has worked for the state board of elections in various capacities for 33 years.

Sandvoss allegedly notified the Illinois State Police of the scheme, which is currently investigating the matter. After a special board meeting last week that had only an executive session on its agenda no action was taken by the board.

Assistant Executive Director Bernadette Matthew is assuming directorship at this time. There are also orders for the agency’s chief information security officer Jeremy Owens to fully cooperate with law enforcement investigating the matter, and to assess all devices Sandvoss may have used. In the press release last week, the board has said that no election information or data has been compromised as a result of the scheme.

Sandvoss’ annual reported salary is $162,000. The next official board meeting is set for Tuesday, April 20th.