How Many Chicago Aldermen Have Side Hustles?

When diners order Swedish pancakes, served with traditional lingonberries, at Ann Sather restaurants, there’s a chance they’ll be brought to the table by Ald. Tom Tunney.

The 44th Ward alderman bought the restaurant from its namesake in 1981.

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Tunney is one of the 20% of Chicago aldermen who, according to the latest batch of financial disclosure forms on file with the Chicago Board of Ethics, has a second job in addition to serving on the Chicago City Council.

Taking stock of these second jobs is not an exact science – the forms ask city officials for details about work that derived income of $1,000 or more in 2018, so it’s possible the situations for particular aldermen have changed since then.

But according to a WTTW News analysis of those forms, 10 of the council’s 50 members get paychecks, or income, from someone besides taxpayers.

• Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th Ward) has a law firm, she reported making less than $25,000 from it last year

• Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson (11th Ward) is also an attorney

• Ald. George Cardenas (12th Ward) has a consulting firm, he also says that brings in less than $25,000

• Ald. Marty Quinn (13th Ward) is a paid political advisor to House Speaker Michael Madigan

• Ald. Ed Burke (14th Ward) is president of Edward M Burke PC and proprietor of A. Klafter & Burke law firm

• Ald. Howard Brookins Jr. (21st Ward) is an attorney

• Ald. Roberto Maldonado (26th Ward) is an agent for an energy broker

• Ald. Chris Taliaferro (29th Ward) owns his own law firm

• Ald. Gilbert Villegas (36th Ward) works at Strategem Consulting Group

• Ald. Tom Tunney (44th Ward) owns Ann Sather restaurants and catering

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot wants to set some restrictions on outside employment for aldermen. She’s not proposing an outright ban, though that’s what some aldermen think is the best course.

According to a press release, Lightfoot wants to restrict aldermen from outside employment if it “poses a liability or a conflict of interest with City of Chicago business.”

The latest draft puts it this way: “No elected official or employee may derive any income … that impacts anticipated City revenue, or health, safety or welfare of City residents.”

It’s an action that appears to be inspired by Ald. Ed Burke, who answered “yes” on the financial interest filing to a question asking whether he, or his spouse – Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke – received compensation of more than $5,000 for services “rendered to any person or entity doing business with the City of Chicago.”

He attached a two-page list citing dozens of clients from whom his Klafter & Burke law firm provided legal services.

The public scrutiny Burke has long been under for using his prestige and connections to attract clients seeking to get their local property tax bills lowered is more intense than ever, as Burke fights charges that he crossed the line and illegally used his public office to win clients and personally profit. (He also allegedly used his public office to punish those who did not help to fatten his wallet, and refused or delayed hiring his firm.)

Burke on Tuesday pleaded not guilty in federal court to corruption charges outlined in a federal indictment filed last week.

While it seems doubtless that Burke would be put in a fresh pickle should Lightfoot’s proposed ordinance pass, it’s less obvious whether other aldermen would have to make the choice of leaving one or the other occupation behind, or perhaps merely dropping certain clients.

Ald. Chris Taliaferro appears confident that he’d be in the clear – he told WTTW News his law practice is limited to divorce and child custody cases that would pose no government conflict. Ald. Gilbert Villegas said he does business development and consulting, and customer contracts include specific language disallowing contact or work with the city.

Follow Amanda Vinicky on Twitter: @AmandaVinicky

Related stories:

City Council Cleanup: Aldermen Discuss Mayor’s Plan for Ethics Reforms

Spotlight Politics: Lightfoot Proposes New Ethics Plan in Wake of Burke Plea

Ald. Ed Burke Pleads Not Guilty to Federal Corruption Charges

Mayor Lightfoot: Letter Being Sent to Ask Burke to Resign

Ald. Ed Burke Indicted on 14 Counts of Racketeering, Extortion, Attempted Bribery

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