Ald. Ed Burke was charged Thursday with attempted extortion, but this isn't the first time the federal government has launched a City Hall investigation involving the powerful Chicago politician.
In August 2012, a federal grand jury subpoenaed records from the Committee on Finance for six years involving the Worker’s Compensation program. NBC 5 reported at the time the grand jury demanded injury records, medical assessments and information on the city workers who run the program.
At the time, Burke, the 14th Ward alderman, denied any wrongdoing and pledged to cooperate with investigators. No charges were brought.
The Worker’s Compensation Program is run out of the Finance Committee, which Burke chairs. Former alderman and UIC political science professor Dick Simpson said at the time, "This is a scam that is costing taxpayers millions of dollars."
Burke has been Finance Committee chairman since 1989. He previously occupied the post from 1983 to 1987, during the so-called Council Wars when predominately white aldermen battled Chicago’s first African-American mayor Harold Washington. Burke was replaced for two years during the administration of Eugene Sawyer.
A lawyer in private practice, Burke’s firm, Klafter & Burke, represents clients seeking reductions in property taxes, as well as companies doing business with the city.
A recent report by WBEZ-FM and the Better Government Association looked at recusals by Burke on items up for vote before the City Council over the past eight years. The investigation revealed Burke has recused himself 464 times, compared to 49 for all other aldermen.
Among clients Burke listed on a May 2018 ethics statement are: Bank of America, Commonwealth Edison, Northwestern Hospital, Walgreen’s and Walsh Construction.