Douglas County Dem chief under investigation over campaign funds

Douglas County Dem chief under investigation over campaign funds

TUSCOLA — The head of the Douglas County Democratic Party is under investigation for accepting campaign contributions from a company that he oversees as a state official.

Michael L. Woods Sr., of Tuscola, has been moved to another position in the Department of Natural Resources by Director Marc Miller. Woods, an IDNR employees since 2004, is being investigated for taking a total of $14,000 in 2012 and 2013 from Foresight Energy Services of St. Louis.

Foresight is a coal mining company with operations at four Illinois sites.

In addition to being chairman of the Douglas County Democratic Party, Woods is acting director of the Office of Mines and Minerals at the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. As such, he is a chief regulator of mining operations in the state.

Campaign disclosure records show that Foresight last August gave $10,000 to the Douglas County Democrats, a highly unusual sum given that the organization generally had no more than $4,000 on hand.

Within a few days of Foresight's $10,000 donation to the Douglas County Democrats, officials disbursed much of it to Democratic candidates and other party organizations outside of Douglas County.

The largest sum — $5,000 — went to Gov. Pat Quinn's re-election campaign. Another $1,200 went to the Illinois Democratic County Chairmen's Association. And $250 went to the campaign fund of state Sen. Mike Frerichs, D-Champaign.

The Douglas County Democrats also gave $1,000 to the campaign fund of Tony Mayville, a Democratic candidate for the Illinois House in the 115th District in southern Illinois. Mayville is a state mine safety officer for IDNR.

He also is under investigation by the IDNR for taking money from Foresight, as a candidate and as head of the Washington County Democratic Party.

Mayville was placed on unpaid leave on Feb. 8.

In a statement Monday, the IDNR said that Woods has been reassigned "to a nonregulatory position pending the outcome of an investigation."

The agency said that it "proactively investigated Mr. Woods, who holds a similar position outside state government, and found potential violations."

IDNR said it "expects all employees to follow the rules and has a zero tolerance for misconduct."

It is unclear whether any other officials or agencies besides IDNR are investigating Woods and Mayville.

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