CHICAGO (CBS) — In an unprecedented move hours after 14th Ward Alderman Ed Burke was indicted on charges of racketeering and attempted extortion, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot called for him to “resign immediately.”
In a statement, Lightfoot wrote, “The allegations in this superseding indictment are alarming. The indictment alleges that Ald. Burke used his position and the tools of government to facilitate a criminal enterprise to enrich himself and cheat the residents of this city. No official in this city — elected or appointed — should ever profit from his or her office.”
Lightfoot has previously stated that she believes aldermen should not profit from their offices.
“Given the serious criminal liability he faces, Alderman Burke can no longer continue to do his job honorably or effectively. It is in the best interests of all that he step aside so that the residents of the 14th ward can be properly represented,” the statement continued.
Lightfoot also directed the city’s Corporation Counsel to investigate whether any current city employees or vendors were complicit in the alleged crimes.
“If so, we will not hesitate to take decisive actions against anyone whose conduct violated any laws or ethical rules,” she wrote.
The call for Burke’s resignation comes just one day after Lightfoot essentially let Burke know who was in charge at city hall.
The indictments come five months after the alderman was hit with other federal charges, alleging he used his office and power to extort private legal work for his law firm.
Besides proclaiming innocence Burke also ran for reelection and won handily.
Burke has given no comment so far and no sign that he is even home, but 32nd Ward Alderman Scott Waguespack, who has taken over Burke’s powerful finance committee chairman role, backs Lightfoot’s call.
“Not having seen prior mayors ever take a stand like this, I’m not surprised that she is doing it because she is a tough, reform-minded, do-the-right-thing kind of mayor,” Waguespack said.
According to political science Professor Dick Simpson, the mayor has no power to remove Burke, but the city council could.
Burke will be back in court June 4.
The next city council meeting is a week later.