Ald. Danny Solis resigns as chairman of City Council Zoning Committee amid report he secretly recorded Mike Madigan for FBI

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago Ald. Danny Solis resigned Tuesday as chairman of the City Council's Zoning Committee amid a report that he secretly recorded Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan for the feds.

The Chicago Sun-Times reported Tuesday that the FBI secretly recorded Madigan discussing a hotel project and the possibility that the developer might become a client of his private law firm. According to the report, Solis, who represents the 25th Ward, put the developer in touch with Madigan.

In a statement, Madigan said: "To my knowledge, I am not under investigation by the Office of the U.S. Attorney and I have not been contacted by the U.S. Attorney relative to Dan Solis."

The Madigan deal involved a developer's plan in 2014 to build a hotel on this vacant lot in Chinatown. An associate of the developer recorded the conversations in Madigan's law office in the Loop. According to the Sun-Times, the developer never retained Madigan's firm and the hotel was never built.

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Ald. Danny Solis secretly recorded House Speaker Michael Madigan, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

The Sun-Times report cites a 2016 affidavit that also details corruption, including sex acts, Viagra and campaign contributions in exchange for City Council approvals. The investigation of Solis, the City Council's powerful Zoning Committee chairman, reportedly began in 2014.

Solis then began cooperating with the feds and secretly recorded conversation with Ald. Ed Burke, which led to him being charged with attempted extortion.

RELATED: Longtime Chicago alderman Ed Burke charged with attempted extortion

Heather Weir Vaught, Madigan's attorney, said the Speaker does recall having several meetings with Solis during the past five years and that those meetings involved people who were in need of legal representation.

"If indeed, some of his conversations were being recorded, the Speaker did not know that, but he has no concern if they were. The Speaker has no recollection of ever suggesting that he would take official action for a private law firm client or potential client," Vaught said.

In Springfield, many were taking a wait-and-see approach on these revelations.

"Let's let the process play out, I'm not going to jump to any conclusions, I want to see what happens when the facts come out," said David McSweeney, R-Barrington Hills.

"I think we'll just have to wait and see what else develops," said House Majority Leader Greg Harris, D-Chicago.

Gov. JB Pritzker took a similar approach while suggesting the Madigan developments are a reminder about the need for ethics and accountability.

"We should continue to surface ideas to make sure that people are living up to their obligations in public service and then that people who are doing anything wrong are held accountable for that," Pritzker said.

RELATED: Ald. Daniel Solis to retire after 23 years


Mayoral candidates were quick to jump on the latest revelations as they called for ethics reforms and pointed fingers at each other.

Paul Vallas labeled his opponents Toni Preckwinkle, Susana Mendoza, Gery Chico and Bill Daley as the "Burke 4" for their connections to Alderman Ed Burke. Solis' cooperation with the feds led to corruption charges against Burke.

"It's a sad statement that we are allowing the US attorney and FBI to be the cleansing solution to weed out corruption and government," mayoral candidate Lori Lightfoot said.

"The problem is we have a political machine and a government that is tied they are like conjoined twins sharing the same organ and that organ is money," Vallas said.

RELATED: Mayoral candidate Susana Mendoza lays out ethics plan to fight corruption

Mendoza, who released her own ethics reform proposal this week, said it's not fair to paint her with the same brush with other people's negative actions.

"I've always conducted myself with the highest level of integrity, I won't let anyone whether its Paul Vallas or anyone else question that," Mendoza said.

Mendoza, Lightfoot and Vallas are calling for an end to aldermanic prerogative, the city council practice that gives alderman the power to green or red light projects in their wards.

When asked Tuesday morning to comment about the Solis report, Preckwinkle had nothing to say.

"I have no comment, thank you," Preckwinkle said.

A few hours after the "no comment," Preckwinkle did release a written statement calling for Solis to resign as alderman and chair of the Zoning Committee, which he later did.

In a statement, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said: "Alderman Danny Solis has recognized that he cannot effectively preside over the matters before the Committee on Zoning, Landmarks and Building Standards, and he has communicated with my office his intent to resign as Chairman. I commend him for making the right decision for the City Council and the City of Chicago."
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