White House officials on Tuesday abruptly withheld an honor slated to be given to a Chicago alderman accused of an ethics violation.
Ald. Joe Moore (49th) was to be honored in a "Champions of Change" ceremony, but officials at The White House said they became aware of an FBI investigation involving the alderman just hours before the ceremony.
Moore has acknowledged that he's been questioned by the FBI about what he said were "baseless" allegations that he fired a staff member in 2009 for blowing the whistle on political campaign work being done in his ward office.
The FBI investigation follows a report, issued by Chicago's Legislative Inspector General Faisal Khan, that concludes that Moore "told (the staffer) she should not speak to anyone about the activities at the ward office," and provided her with a taxpayer-funded severance package worth $8,709. City code allows for terminated employees to cash out unused sick days, but does not provide for severance, according to Khan.
The report also concludes Moore fired his chief of staff and provided 81 days worth of severance pay. The report has been turned over to the Cook County State's Attorney's Office and the U.S. Attorney's office, which has conducted interviews of the players involved in the case.
Moore has called the allegation completely false and said it was leveled by an angry former employee.
The White House said Moore may be honored pending the results of the investigation. The weekly Champions of Change ceremony honors those "ordinary Americans are doing extraordinary things in their communities to out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world."
Moore was to be lauded as a "pioneer in political reform, governmental transparency and democratic governance." A statement from the White House announcing Moore as a recipient noted he "turns over $1 million of his discretionary capital budget to a process of democratic deliberation and decision-making in which his constituents decide through direct vote how to allocate his budget."