CHICAGO (CBS) — In a forceful rebuke of indicted Ald. Ed Burke, Mayor Lori Lightfoot called on him to resign from his longtime position has political leader of the 14th ward.
In an unprecedented move the day after 14th Ward Alderman Ed Burke was indicted on charges of racketeering and attempted extortion, Lightfoot called for him to resign immediately.
“The indictment doesn’t merely allege one-off criminal behavior. The allegations span multiple years, identify multiple schemes,” an angry Lightfoot told reporters at a news conference at City Hall. “Burke used power and influence to compel city employees and others to bend at his will all in the service, not of the people, but of his corrupt interests.”
While Burke, Lightfoot said, is legally permitted to the presumption of innocence, elected officials are “rightfully judged by a different set of standards.” An alderman is only required to resign upon conviction.
She called the charges against Burke “repugnant.”
“He has forfeited the moral authority and privilege to continue as alderman of 14th Ward,” she said.
She said her administration would be sending Burke a letter the “memorialize” her resignation request.
“This is a sad day … the allegations … are grave,” she said.
Lightfoot has previously stated that she believes aldermen should not profit from their offices.
Lightfoot has also directed the city’s Corporation Counsel to investigate whether any current city employees or vendors were complicit in the alleged crimes.
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.
In this latest indictment, Burke is accused of trying to shake down the developers of the old post office renovation project and a Chinese businessman looking for a sign permit in exchange for hiring Burke’s law firm for tax work.
Burke allegedly threatened to block an admission fee hike for the Field Museum unless they hired the daughter of a personal friend.
A statement provided by the law firm representing Burke said:
“For over 50 years, Ed Burke has served the citizens of the 14th Ward and the City of Chicago honorably and tirelessly. His accomplishments on behalf of the community and his constituents are notable and many.
Any suggestion that Alderman Burke abused his position as a public official for personal gain is simply not true.”
Besides proclaiming innocence Burke also ran for reelection and won handily.
Burke will be back in court June 4.
The next city council meeting is a week later.