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Burke Spends Big to Win Re-Election

Contributions decline for embattled alderman

Chicago Ald. Ed Burke spent close to $900,000 during the first quarter of 2019 as he fended off two challengers to retain the 14th Ward seat he has held for 50 years.

Records filed with the Illinois Board of Elections show Burke spent $879,574 from Jan. 1 through March 31, 2019. On February 26, the embattled alderman defeated two challengers, winning 54 percent of the vote even as a federal criminal complaint swirled around him.

The political spending by Burke far exceeds amounts in similar quarterly reports. Between January through March from 2015 through 2018, Burke averaged spending $161,817.

The mandated state reports also show that from January through March, $4,250 in campaign contributions were made to Friends of Edward M. Burke, a total much lower than he had raised in similar quarters in the past. The first quarter reports from 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 show Burke received total contributions ranging from approximately $19,000 to $97,000.

The most recent filing is the first full report made by the alderman since federal agents raided his ward and City Hall offices in November and December.

Burke was named in a 37-page federal criminal complaint in January alleging attempted extortion of a fast food restaurant. The alderman allegedly tried to extort the restaurant’s owner by holding up city permits until his law firm - Klafter and Burke - was given tax preparation work.

Burke said at the time he had done nothing wrong and would cooperate with authorities. On April 11, Burke was implicated but not charged in a different case in which a developer was indicted for allegedly bribing a city official to obtain a city permit and tax increment financing for a property on the city’s Northwest Side.

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