Feds Probe Gardiner for Bribery, Pay-to-Play: Sources

Federal officials are probing allegations that Ald. Jim Gardiner (45th Ward) took bribes and demanded payments before taking official actions, sources told WTTW News.

Sources familiar with the probe told WTTW News that FBI agents have interviewed several people about the allegations against Gardiner, who was elected in 2019 to represent parts of Jefferson Park, Portage Park, Norwood Park and Old Irving Park. The probe is ongoing, sources said.

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Gardiner declined to respond to questions from WTTW News about the reports of an FBI probe while at City Hall on Tuesday for a meeting of the Chicago City Council. Sources told WTTW News that Gardiner was directly questioned by FBI agents last week.

Gardiner’s attorney did not respond to requests for comment.

During Tuesday’s City Council meeting, Gardiner apologized for sending profane and misogynistic texts to a former aide about Ald. Tom Tunney (44th Ward) and two women who work at City Hall but did not address the FBI probe, which was first reported Monday night by the Chicago Tribune.

READ: Gardiner Apologies for Profane, Misogynistic Texts as Effort to Censure Him Advances

Other texts obtained by WTTW News show that Gardiner obtained the criminal records of a 45th Ward resident who organized a protest against him and told his aide to “leak” those records. That prompted the Cook County Circuit Court Clerk to request that the office’s watchdog probe how Gardiner got those records

Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Tuesday reiterated her call for Inspector General Joseph Ferguson to probe whether Gardiner used the power of his office to retaliate against political critics

“I want to make it clear that I have never acted on those rants, however, they should not have been expressed and it certainly was not my intention to demean anyone,” Gardiner said in his apology.

A measure by Ald. Rossana Rodriguez Sanchez (33rd Ward) calls on the City Council to hold a hearing into Gardiner’s behavior and consider censuring him.

Three members of the Chicago City Council are under indictment. 

In July, Ald. Carrie Austin (34th Ward) was indicted on four charges that she took bribes in the form of home improvements including new kitchen cabinets and granite countertops from a developer and lied to Federal Bureau of Investigation agents.

In April, Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson (11th Ward) was indicted on seven charges that he lied to federal bank regulators and filed false tax returns. He pleaded not guilty.

In May 2019, Ald. Ed Burke (14th Ward) was charged with 14 counts alleging he repeatedly — and brazenly — used his powerful position at City Hall to force those doing business with the city to hire his private law firm. He pleaded not guilty.

Contact Heather Cherone: @HeatherCherone | (773) 569-1863 | [email protected]

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