Sandoval fallout: Illinois politicians bailing on contributions from red light camera company

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WLS) -- Fallout from the Martin Sandoval guilty plea this week continues as politicians try to distance themselves from a red light camera company connected to the case.

At least two high ranking politicians are giving away political contributions from Safespeed, and one of them is going so far as to call the money "tainted."

When former state senator Martin Sandoval pleaded guilty to bribery charges, and named the red light camera company Safespeed as the source of the dirty money, he caused aftershocks across the political landscape in Illinois.

ABC 7 confronted House Republican Leader Jim Durkin about the $7,500 he'd received from Safespeed.

"I don't want that money, it will be sent off to a charity in my area, and we will be doing that very soon," Durkin said. "But in hindsight you don't know, you expect that people are going to play within the rules, and acting a lawful manner, but I will not accept that tainted money."

In January 2018, Safespeed made a $5,000 donation to Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul.

Raoul said on Thursday, "I haven't decided what charity yet, but it is my intent to donate the contribution to charity."

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle was evasive on her plans for the $7,500 she's received from Safespeed.

"Well the first thing that I want to say is these allegations of public corruption are really disturbing to me," Preckwinkle said.

When asked if the money was tainted, Preckwinkle responded: "You know this is under consideration by my campaign staff."

When pressed about the money, Preckwinkle said "thank you" and got into her SUV.

Alderman Roderick Sawyer, who said he was a long-time friend of Safespeed CEO Nikki Zollar, intends to keep the $5,000 he's received, saying, "I don't feel compelled to do anything but say thank you."

Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx accepted a $5,000 contribution from Safespeed in 2016.

A campaign spokeswoman said the money has been donated to charities.

"We vet all contributions coming into the campaign to comply with our ethical standards. The moment we learn a donor no longer meets those standards, we immediately donate the funds to a charitable organization where it can make a positive difference in the community. In this case those organizations are: Black Ensemble Theatre and Chicago Children's Advocacy Center," the spokeswoman said.

The head of a government watchdog group said politicians should be carefully examining their contributions these days.

"It's a good time for all elected officials to be looking at the campaign money that they take, whom they take it from, and whether they still want to be associated with the companies that have been wrapped up in this federal investigation," said David Greising, president of the Better Government Association

A Safespeed spokesman said the person who paid Sandoval bribes did so without the company's knowledge or authorization.

Safespeed is cooperating in the investigation.
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