FBI raids Burke's Council and ward offices
Federal authorities continue to be tight-lipped about the reasons behind a recent early-morning raid on the Chicago City Council and ward offices of the city’s longest-tenured alderman.
Illinois Policy Institute (IPI) also reports it remains unknown if any arrests were made during almost simultaneous Nov. 29 searches of the offices of 14th Ward Alderman Ed Burke. In both cases, the Chicago Tribune reports, all the windows at the facilities were quickly papered over.
Burke, a city alderman since 1969, chaired the powerful city Finance Committee for more than three decades. His wife, Anne, has sat on the Illinois Supreme Court for 12 years.
In addition to being a lawmaker in Springfield, Burke’s law firm of Klafter & Burke runs a lucrative property-tax -appeal operation with IPI reporting over a five-year period ending in 2016 “only three law firms appealed more assessed value in Cook County for commercial and industrial property” than Klafter & Burke.
Burke’s list of most notable clients includes President Donald Trump, whom Burke’s firm worked with to trim taxes at Trump International Hotel & Tower by nearly 40 percent, at a value of roughly $12 million.
Burke is also known to have exclusive ties to a citywide program that controls at least $100 million per year in workers’ compensation costs.
“There’s almost nobody in city government outside the [workers’ compensation] program that knows how it works,” a WTTW report from two years ago said of the program. “No aldermen we spoke to had any clue how it worked.”
This summer, a lawsuit filed by protestors sought to have the program terminated, claiming that Burke routinely hired “political appointees who lacked the requisite workers’ compensation education and experience . . . [including] a dog groomer, dog walker, hairstylist, waitress, and other jobs unrelated to the administration of Workers’ Compensation.”
The suit also alleged that Burke is further motivated to continue the program based on its ability to place approximately 65 “Shakman-exempt” jobs squarely in his hands, none of them subject to any of the restrictions put forth by the Shakman decrees,which were instituted to outlaw patronage hiring.
“Alderman Burke hires his Workers’ Compensation subordinates based on their ability to help him secure votes for himself and his favored candidates,” the lawsuit added.