Retiring Ald. Danny Solis (25th), the powerful chairman of the Chicago City Council’s Zoning Committee, secretly recorded more than a dozen conversations with Ald. Ed Burke (14th) over the last two years, including at City Hall, to help federal investigators build their corruption case against him. Burke has now been charged with racketeering.
The main charge that Burke faces, racketeering, is stunning, given that it was created to combat mobsters and organized crime, and the racketeering criminal enterprise named in the indictment is the government of the City of Chicago itself.
Solis began cooperating with the Feds after allegedly receiving sex acts, Viagra, use of a luxury farm and campaign contributions in exchange for shepherding official City Council actions, according to an explosive federal court affidavit first obtained by the Sun-Times in January.
“the cash register has not rung yet”Ald. Ed Burke
Among the new charges in the indictment, Burke is accused of shaking down the developer of the Old Post Office development for legal work and attempting to derail a proposed admission fee increase by the Field Museum, because it was not responding to his inquiry regarding a job for the child of a Burke acquaintance, former Ald. Terry Gabinski.
A top Burke political aide, Peter J. Andrews, was also criminally charged for allegedly helping Burke.
Burke, the City Council’s longest-serving alderman, has been charged with one count of attempted extortion for allegedly shaking down a Burger King franchise owner for legal business at the same time the company needed permits for work on a restaurant in his ward.
He is also accused of shaking down the same businessman for a $10,000 campaign contribution for County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. Preckwinkle’s campaign returned the donation, which exceeded the legal limits, and has said it knew nothing about what prompted the donation.