Ald. Ed Burke appeared in federal court Tuesday morning and pleaded not guilty to 14 counts of racketeering, attempted bribery and extortion.
Burke entered the federal building 15 minutes before his arraignment. Afterward, he left swiftly without answering reporters’ questions. He was joined by his attorneys Charles Sklarsky and Joe Duffy.
Alderman Burke enters federal court for his arraignment pic.twitter.com/EHGBWzPYla
— Paris Schutz (@paschutz) June 4, 2019
Burke’s longtime top political associate, Peter Andrews, also pleaded not guilty to corruption charges laid out in the indictment, as did developer Charles Cui. Cui allegedly hired Burke’s legal firm in exchange for Burke’s help winning a permit to put up a pole sign at a building located at 4901 W. Irving Park Road.
The arraignment took place before U.S. Federal Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Cole.
Per conditions of his release, Burke is allowed to travel within the United States. He is not permitted to have any contact with any witnesses in the indictment. A status hearing has been set for July 2.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot has called on Burke to resign, saying he can’t ably serve as a City Council member with the 14 corruption charges hanging over his head. Burke was asked Tuesday, upon leaving the courthouse, whether he would resign. He did not answer.
This isn’t the first time Ald. Ed Burke has run into legal and ethical problems over his 50 years in office. So how exactly has the most powerful alderman accumulated power since 1969 and avoided serious legal jeopardy until now?
Two former aldermen who served with Burke weigh in: Former 49th Ward Ald. David Orr, who served in City Council from 1970 to 1990; and former 44th Ward Ald. Dick Simpson, who served from 1971 to 1979.
Watch our conversation in the video above, starting at the 1:34 mark.
Follow Paris Schutz on Twitter: @paschutz