Burke’s City Council Colleagues Discuss Extortion Charge, Ethics Reform

Days after longtime Ald. Ed Burke was charged with attempted extortion in federal court, Chicago political figures from Mayor Rahm Emanuel to aldermanic and mayoral candidates are calling for greater transparency in City Council.

The federal complaint filed against Burke on Jan. 3 accuses him of using his position as 14th Ward alderman to “corruptly solicit” business for his tax law firm in exchange for approving a Burger King restaurant’s building and driveway permits.

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On Sunday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced plans for an independent audit of the $100-million-a-year worker’s compensation program Burke controlled as Finance Committee chairman, a role Burke formally resigned from on Monday.

Emanuel said the city’s inspector general’s office will assist an outside firm with the audit, described by Emanuel as “a unique opportunity to hit the reset button on workers' compensation” in a statement.

At City Hall on Monday, City Council’s Progressive Caucus, 49th Ward Ald. Joe Moore and mayoral candidates Paul Vallas and Willie Wilson made separate announcements demanding ethical reforms in Chicago.

Aldermanic candidates called for additional powers to Inspector General Joe Ferguson’s office in order to investigate City Council committees and issue subpoenas, as well as a requirement for aldermen to formally file written notice of any conflicts of interest before matters are considered.

Joining us to share their thoughts on how Ald. Ed Burke’s legal trouble may alter the rules and organization of City Council are 49th Ward Ald. Joe Moore, 12th Ward Ald. George Cardenas, 32nd Ward Ald. Scott Waguespack and 45th Ward Ald. John Arena.

Follow Evan Garcia on Twitter: @EvanRGarcia

Related stories:

Preckwinkle, FBI at Odds Over Campaign Contribution

Ald. Ed Burke Loses City Council Power

Firearms Found in Ald. Ed Burke’s Office: Who Can Carry Guns in City Hall?

Ald. Ed Burke Charged with Attempted Extortion

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