Mayor Lightfoot Calls On Ald. Burke To Quit After Racketeering Charges

Ariel Parrella-Aureli
May 31, 2019 - 8:54 am

Craig Dellimore/WBBM


CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- After charges were brought against Ald. Ed Burke yesterday, Mayor Lightfoot wants him out of City Council.

In a statement released late Thursday, Lightfoot said the allegations in this superseding indictment are alarming.

"The indictment alleges that Ald. Burke used his position and the tools of government to facilitate a criminal enterprise to enrich himself and cheat the residents of this city," read the statement. "No official in this city — elected or appointed — should ever profit from his or her office.  Given the serious nature of the allegations, and particularly the allegations that he abused his position as chairman of the Finance committee, Alderman Burke must resign immediately.  Given the serious criminal liability he faces, Alderman Burke can no longer continue to do his job honorably or effectively.  It is in the best interests of all that he step aside so that the residents of the 14th ward can be properly represented."

At a 9 a.m. press conference, Lightfoot addressed the recent allegations on Burke and said they represent the work that needs to be done to reform City Council. She called today a sad day but one that is also turning a new leaf by calling on Burke to quit.

"We will be freeing up the business people and recoginz(ing) that people can do their job with integrity," Lightfoot said. "We need to change the tone and content with how we deliver services to people."

She said this change will not be easy but is a cultural shift that needs to happen. As an example, she said Ald. Tom Tunney carries himself with great integrity; she wants that kind of leadership and faith to be restored to all of City Council.

She added that she directed the city's Corporation Counsel to investigate whether any current city employees or vendors were complicit in facilitating the crimes alleged in the superseding indictment. 

"If so, we will not hesitate to take decisive actions against anyone whose conduct violated any laws or ethical rules," she said. 

On Thursday, Burke was charged on racketeering and bribery charges for allegedly abusing his power to solicit legal work from companies doing business with the city.

Prosecutors lay out how Burke, once one of the most powerful politicians in the city and a longtime alderman, allegedly steered work to his private law firm from companies involved in redevelopment projects, including the Old Main Post Office and a Burger King restaurant on the Southwest Side.

The indictment also describes a consiperacy between Burke and former Ald. Danny Solis from 2016, when Burke asked Solis to push for a big development company to hire his private law firm. Solis was later found to be cooperating with the FBI; he wore a wire for federal investigators while he had conversations with Burke.