Chicago corrupt string continues to unfold amidst upcoming mayoral election. Following federal charges filed against the Chicago longest-serving alderman, Edward Burke, the city has faced a new scandal. This time, connected with Burke’s closest ally, 25th Ward Alderman Daniel Solis. According to the Sun-Times report, Ald. Solis has been secretly recording his colleague Burke for the two past years, wearing a wire.
As Chicago News previously reported, Ald. Burke was charged with extortion on January 3rd. The case highlighted in the federal complaint is an alleged extortion of the owner of the Burger King franchise, who was looking to remodel one of their restaurants, located at Burke’s ward, at 4060 S. Pulaski Road. Ald. Burke was allegedly soliciting him for advances, seeking business for his private law firm, before allowing the work to be done. Moreover, during the fundraising party Burke held at his house for the mayoral candidate Toni Preckwinkle, that same franchise owner had to also donate $10,000 into her election fund, following Burke’s alleged request.
Ald. Burke’s alleged misuse of his political power and public office position for personal gain is the focus of the ongoing federal investigation. The leaked information of Ald. Solis’ cooperation with the authorities goes far beyond simple “assistance” to the feds. Being a long-term, trusted ally of both Burke and Mayor Emanuel, Solis’ chairman position at the city’s Zoning Committee provided him with the direct influence for arranging meetings for Burke, where he could pitch and obtain potential clients for his private law firm, Klafter and Burke.
According to the media reports, Solis himself was under the FBI’s microscope for a year before he started wearing a wire to record Burke. A source close to the investigation stated that the feds started investigating Solis back in 2014 over his alleged misuse of the public funds for personal gain. Following the information supplied by a confidential informant, FBI was wiretapping Solis’ phone for over a year. No one (and especially presently serving government official) agrees to wear a wire unless there’s some leverage present, experts say. It is not yet clear whether or not Solis to be charged next, or if any case or investigation is currently underway for the troubled alderman.
The scandal unfolds just a month before the Chicago Mayoral Election, shaping up the political landscape. Susana Mendoza, one of the mayoral candidates, has previously publicly praised Anne Burke, Ald. Burke’s spouse and an Illinois Supreme Court Justice as her mentor, “number one and most important role model.” January 14, Mendoza withdrew her invitation to Justice Burke to swear her in for a second term as an Illinois Comptroller. After the scandal unfolded further, revealing that Ald. Solis was wearing a wire to record Ald. Burke’s conversations, she donated all $141,000 of contributions associated with Solis and Burke to the Montford Point Marines, veteran aid organization in Englewood. In her Thursday’s statement, Mendoza called on her fellow mayoral candidate, Toni Preckwinkle, to do the same.
“I call on Toni Preckwinkle to do the same within 24 hours with the $116,000 she received from the Ed Burke fundraiser that is now the subject of an FBI criminal complaint. By waiting until the end of March to return this tainted money, she is choosing to use dirty money to get her through this mayoral election,” Mendoza said in the statement.
In two months after Mayor Emanuel’s announcement that he would not seek reelection, Solis joined the same path, surprising everyone with his statement during his Chicago Tonight appearance. However, that announcement was not the only one to surprise the audience that night.
“I think Ald. Burke should reconsider. You got money, you got a great family, you got grandkids. Why do you want to run?” Solis said to the host, referring to Ald. Burke’s announcement to run for re-election. Against all odds, the next day after the federal charges were announced, Ald. Burke stated that he would not only seek re-election, he’s also anticipating to win it.
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