A former intern confirms a staff member's allegations that 49th Ward Alderman, Joe Moore, was doing political work on the taxpayers dime. Phil Rogers reports.
A week after news first broke of his interview with the FBI, Ald. Joe Moore (49th) concedes that there may be some truth to a former employee’s allegations of political work being done in his city ward office. But he quickly added that the incident in question does not rise "even to the level of a trivial offense," said that no taxpayer money was involved.
The issue was first raised by Anne Sullivan, a former Moore aide who said she was fired in the fall of 2009 after raising an alarm over political work being done in the alderman’s Rogers Park office. Sullivan said she had seen previous work being done, but that the incident which caused her to raise the issue with Moore himself was a day when she saw an intern addressing invitations to a political fundraiser.
Sullivan said she contacted Moore warning him of the impropriety of such activity, and that very soon thereafter she was fired. Moore paid her three and a half months severance, which the Legislative Inspector General maintains is not allowed. Sullivan called it "hush money" to keep her quiet about the incident. Moore said he did it out of compassion.
"The kid was unpaid, and the stamps, cards, and labels were purchased by my political fund," Moore said Monday. "The City and its taxpayers were not harmed one iota. Not one dime thin dime of city tax dollars were expended."
The intern, Sam Kirchner, now works as an English teacher in Southeast Asia. But he said Sullivan’s story was accurate.
"I was the intern she was talking about," he told NBC Chicago. "So I can confirm that Ms. Sullivan’s story is true."
"Anne came into the office and said, 'You shouldn’t be doing that at the front desk,'" Kirchner said. He recalled Sullivan warning him, "We’re going to have a news crew in here doing an exposé."
Moore said he also communicated with the intern, via Facebook. But he disputed the level of the infraction.
"At most, it was a technical violation of the prohibition against political work,' he said, noting that it happened during a week when he was out of town in San Antonio.
As for Sullivan’s accusation that he paid her severance to keep her quiet, Moore said he would never do such a thing.
"Why would I risk my reputation to pay her $8,000 in hush money?” he asked. "I was trying to be a decent guy. I believed I had a moral obligation."
Legislative Inspector General Faisal Khan issued a scathing report on the incident, demanding that Moore reimburse the City of Chicago for Sullivan’s severance, along with that of a former Chief of Staff who Khan alleges enjoyed similar largesse a few years earlier. Because the statute of limitations had already expired on the incidents, Khan said he referred the matter to the FBI.
Moore last week was to be honored by the White House, but that award was withheld after officials there learned of the FBI investigation.