Longest-serving Chicago alderman charged with attempted extortion
7 January 2019
In a federal courtroom in Chicago last Thursday, 14th Ward alderman and city council finance chairman Edward Burke was charged with seeking to extort business for his law firm and a $10,000 campaign contribution from an Archer Heights Burger King franchisee operating a restaurant in his ward.
Long a major figure in the corrupt Democratic Party machine, Burke was arrested just ahead of the city council elections in February. This has had the effect of exposing once again the Democratic Party’s deep corruption and shameless profit-seeking.
Burke did not enter a plea on Thursday afternoon, and was released after posting $10,000 bond. Later on Thursday, he told reporters he had done nothing wrong. A condition of his release is getting rid of 23 handguns found in his city offices.
The federal complaint alleges Burke withheld permits for renovations to the Burger King to force the franchise owner to retain Burke’s law firm for his property tax work. The FBI investigation began in 2017 after Burger King executives contacted law enforcement. Federal agents raided Burke’s offices in late November 2018.
The complaint notes Burke’s office went so far as to have a ward employee tell a restaurant representative that the construction had to stop, and “the business has to stop.” Eventually the Burger King executives agreed to give some tax work to Burke’s firm, Klafter and Burke, as well as a $10,000 donation to the re-election campaign of Cook County Board Chair Toni Preckwinkle. Preckwinkle is now the front-runner in the February mayoral election. The complaint cites the donation was made “in order to prevent Burke’s further interference” with the restaurant. The…