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HomeIllinois NewsReeder: Sandack's a good man that caught up in something awful

Reeder: Sandack’s a good man that caught up in something awful




By Scott Reeder –

SPRINGFIELD – Sometimes smart people do really stupid things.

And sometimes good people do things that they wish they hadn’t.

None of us is perfect.

I’ve learned that in the 30 years I’ve been in the news business. When people make mistakes, if a public trust isn’t violated, sometimes mercy rather than judgement is the best response.

That’s why my heart goes out to former state Rep. Ron Sandack. He’s a good man who got caught up in something awful.

The Downers Grove Republican apparently is the victim of an extortion ring based in the Philippines.

According to a Downers Grove police report, Sandack had a conversation on social media with a woman and later they communicated over a video conference. The woman threatened to make a video of the conversation public unless he wired her money.

He did. But she wanted more. And then more.

Faced with this blackmail, Sandack resigned from his seat in the Illinois legislature on July 26 citing “cyber security” issues. And this past week, police released a partially redacted report explaining what transpired.  

I’ve known Sandack for several years. I’ve found him to be a bright, articulate and effective public servant.

His political career now is over.

But that isn’t keeping a chorus of reporters, lawmakers and other political insiders from shaking their heads and clucking their tongues.

In this era of “gotcha journalism” it doesn’t matter that public trust was not violated. Reporters saw a salacious story and went with it.

I spoke with Sandack briefly on the phone on Monday. He told me it was a rough time for him and his family. After all, his wife and kids didn’t do anything to deserve this kind of derision but they are hurting. For that matter, Sandack didn’t break any laws or fail to fulfill his obligations as a lawmaker.

He just showed poor personal judgment.

In a prepared statement Sandack said, “I was the target of an international crime ring targeting high-profile individuals luring them to engage in inappropriate online conversations to extort them and I fell for their bait hook, line and sinker.  But nonetheless, I was a victim.  Poor decisions on my part enabled me to be a victim.”

He’s owned up to his mistake.

But I found his final words in the statement haunting:

“I’m human. I made a mistake for which I am remorseful and ashamed; especially because I have hurt my family … and there is no greater self-inflicted wound than that.”

 Isn’t that the truth?

Scott Reeder is a veteran statehouse journalist. He works as a freelance reporter in the Springfield area and can be reached at [email protected].


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  1. Interesting. I found Ron Sandack to be arrogant and deceptive. He was one of two GOP House members that voted to legalize same sex marriage against his own party’s platform. He shunned and scorned conservative activists and he pretended to be nice only to those he thought were gullible enough to believe him.
    There’s more to this story, Mr. Reeder – thank goodness he’s gone.

  2. I was never a huge fan of the former senator (and I couldn’t care less about his vote on SSM), but I do give him a lot of credit for falling on his sword and recognizing his mistake. I wish him and his family only the best.