Investigation into county car linked to Preckwinkle that was found with campaign materials inside

It's a political mystery.

Bags filled with campaign materials were found inside an abandoned car that used to drive Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.

That mystery is now the subject of an investigation into Preckwinkle's security team and whether someone was using a taxpayer-funded vehicle for political purposes.

Pat Browne is among a handful of residents in a Lemont Township neighborhood who remembers seeing an abandoned 2016 Chevy Tahoe sunk in the mud with two flat tires in the early morning hours of November 9th, 2016 -- the day after Election Day.

According to police documents obtained by FOX 32, someone called 911 and sheriff's police traced the car's municipal plate to the Cook County Department of Homeland Security.

After towing it to a sheriff's lot, they opened the doors and found several bags stuffed with hundreds of pieces of election materials: political flyers, campaign buttons and palm cards all for Democratic state and county candidates.

They also found a dry cleaning receipt with the name Delwin Gadlen. He's the handpicked chief of security for Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, earning $124k a year. 

County sources confirm that vehicle was used by Preckwinkle's security detail to transport the county board president. FOX 32 showed the police report to the head of a public watchdog group who says it raises serious questions.

"Well Dane it's shocking, quite frankly. And point blank it's illegal to use government resources for political activity and that appears to be what's happening here,” said Sarah Brune of Illinois Campaign for Political Reform.

After determining there may have been an ethics violation, the sheriff's office turned their findings over to Cook County inspector general Patrick Blanchard, who told FOX 32 on Tuesday that he is conducting an investigation.

A spokesman for Preckwinkle would not make her or her security chief available for an interview, but says her office maintains a "strict wall between politics and government."

As for her head of security? "The president feels that Delwin Gadlen is a loyal and hardworking county employee and she supports him."

It's unclear who exactly was driving the county vehicle when it got stuck. The police report says when they got there, the engine was warm but no one was inside.

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