Mayor Lori Lightfoot calls on Alderman Ed Burke to resign after new charges filed against him

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Mayor Lori Lightfoot called on longtime Alderman Ed Burke to resign at a news conference Friday morning after a federal indictment against Burke.

Mayor Lightfoot called for Burke's resignation after a federal grand jury handed down a 19-count indictment against the once-powerful alderman. Ald. Burke and his top political aide were named as defendants in a federal bribery case against Lake Forest developer Charles Cui. The racketeering and bribery charges against accuse Burke of using his position as Finance Committee chair to solicit and extort business for his private tax law firm.

Prosecutors said Cui used Burke's law firm for property tax appeal work as he tried to secure permits for a Northwest Side redevelopment.

I-TEAM: Real estate developer charged as result of Ald. Ed Burke investigation
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The I-Team reports on Charles H. Cui, a Lake Forest real estate developer, the first additional person charged by federal prosecutors in connection to the Alderman Ed Burke investi

Burke was secretly recorded by former Alderman Danny Solis, who wore a wire for the FBI. When developers of Chicago's Old Main Post Office allegedly didn't hire Burke's firm, Burke is heard saying, "They can go f*** themselves."

"The words of Ed Burke himself are the most damning that are laid out in this superseding indictment," Lightfoot said.

As a former federal prosecutor who helped convict aldermen in a previous City Hall scandal, Lightfoot says the Burke indictment is much more serious.

"We cannot move forward and tackle the tough challenges that we face when we have individuals in elected office who are alleged to have engaged in criminal conduct," Lightfoot said. "No one can serve with integrity and legitimacy and deliver on behalf of their constituents with this kind of allegation hanging over them."

While Burke has no obligation to legally resign until he's convicted, Lightfoot says she is demanding it based on the moral authority of being mayor and in an effort to set the stage for real reform.

"I hope this is a cautionary tale for any alderman, particularly the newly-minted aldermen, that this is not a path they should go on," she said.
This is round two of federal charges for Alderman Burke. Back in January, the 14th Ward alderman was charged with one count of attempted extortion for allegedly trying to force a fast food restaurant to use his law firm in exchange for a building permit. The alderman has maintained his innocence.

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Mayor Lori Lightfoot called on Alderman Ed Burke to resign during a news conference Friday morning.

"I have always cooperated in investigations, I will fully cooperate in this one and I'm confident that there'll be nothing found to be amiss," Burke said last November.

Despite the charge, Burke was re-elected as alderman of the 14th Ward last February, although he has stepped down from his position as chairman of the City Council's Finance Committee.

READ: Real estate developer Charles Cui indicted

Dick Simpson, a professor of political science at the University of Illinois at Chicago, said it's going to take time and more than a Burke conviction to entirely weed out corruption at City Hall.

"It will take another decade or two to raise up a new set of voters who are intent on electing people committed to reform," he said.

Burke maintained his innocence in a written statement issued by his attorney that called the charges "unfounded" and "not based on actual evidence."

Burke is due in court on Tuesday.
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