Carol Marin reports on how much it cost taxpayers to pay for the security details assigned to Chicago politicians.
In the four months following Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s inauguration, Chicago taxpayers spent over $300,000 on protective services for former Mayor Richard Daley and current Alderman Ed Burke.
The amount comes from city records obtained through Freedom of Information Acts requests filed by NBC5 and the Chicago Sun Times.
According to city records, the former mayor had a bodyguard detail of 24 Chicago police officers during his 22-year term. When Mayor Emanuel took over, Daley’s security was cut to five bodyguards. Figures show that the ex-mayor’s five bodyguards cost taxpayers $184,000 from May through August of this year.
In September, Emanuel announced that the five full-time officers would return to police duty and three officers would provide occasional bodyguard services for the Daleys. Emanuel made a point to provide former First Lady Maggie Daley with hospital transportation as she continues her battle with cancer.
The former mayor wasn’t the only one affected by Emanuel’s protective service cuts. Long-time Alderman Burke saw his detail cut from four police officers to two retired officers. The officers, branded as “security specialists,” are now projected to cost taxpayers $104,000 annually.
According to city records, his security detail totaled $119,000 from May until August of this year.
Burke has had bodyguards since 1983 during the politically-charged Council Wars and as the Chairman of the City Council Finance Committee, his detail has remained. He is the only alderman to receive such protection.
Alderman Scott Waguespack of the 32nd Ward calls the Daley-Burke $304,000 bill “pretty excessive” while 47th ward Alderman Ameya Pawar sees the need for some of these services.
“Security is something we certainly have to provide for some elected officials,” said Pawar. “I think what we have to do is measure if this is the right way we want to spend money.”
Asked if he had an opinion on that Pawar responded, “It’s a lot of money.”
Mayor Emanuel, who has stated he would keep a smaller security than Daley had, travels with a police detail unknown in size and cost. The city declined to give specifics, citing security concerns.
Documents released by the city show Emanuel has traveled with bodyguards at least three times to Washington and an additional three times to his other home in southwest Michigan. The travel costs, which add to a total of $2,240, are not paid for by the Chicago Police Department. Instead, they are paid through an account in the mayor’s office.
NBC5 and the Sun-Times recently obtained a four night hotel bill for a Labor Day trip to southwest Michigan. The bill was absent from the travel bills the city provided through a FOIA request. A city official told NBC5 and the Sun-Times they were attempting to determine who it was for and why it was billed.
Additional reporting by the Sun Times' Chris Fusco.