CHICAGO (CBS) — Congressman Bobby Rush is trying to counter what he calls innuendo and lies concerning his dealings with the embattled Metra commuter rail agency, reports WBBM Political Editor Craig Dellimore.
Alex Clifford was forced to resign as CEO of Metra, but soon after he left, a memo was released indirectly accusing Rush of using his political power to steer a $50,000 contract to a Washington based business group.
“I have never attempted to steer anybody in receiving one red cent,” said Rush.
Metra’s $93 million rail reconfiguration in Englewood is at the center of the finger pointing. Clifford’s memo says a former board member told him Rush wanted the National Black Chamber of Commerce to monitor the project and make sure minority construction firms got contracts.
In the memo, he wrote.. ”He, (the board member) had arranged with Congressman Rush or his staff for Metra to pay a third party $50,000 for services…”
That’s not the way Rush remembers it.
“All I know is Metra asked me to recommend somebody. There is no time that I negotiated with anybody at Metra,” said Rush.
Rush said what he was doing was urging Metra and its contractors on an Englewood bridge construction project to hire more African-Americans.
“I was determined to make sure that the African-American contractors and the residents of Englewood would be able to participate in the Flyover project which sits right in the middle of their neighborhood,” said Rush.
Clifford’s attorney says Metra won’t let him talk about anything, so he didn’t respond to Rush’s comments. Harry Alford is the president of the chamber.
Asked if Bobby Rush reached out to him, President of the National Black Chamber of Commerce Harry Alford said, “We talked about construction per se about a year ago. Never was there anything about money or cost.”
Alford says he only spoke to the Congressman once about Metra. He says they never talked about a contract and he was never in contact with anyone at Metra.