For the first time in months, the city of Chicago has a new Inspector General, as Deborah Witzburg was unanimously approved for the position on Wednesday.
Witzburg now officially replaces former IG Joe Ferguson, who resigned in October after publicly criticizing Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s administration.
One of her first acts in office will be to potentially look into City Clerk Anna Valencia’s office, with Ald. Silvana Tabares asking the new inspector general to investigate allegations that the Secretary of State candidate and her husband Reyahd Kazmi violated state ethics rules.
“The City Clerk Anna Valencia really stepped out of line,” Tabares said. “The public deserves to know how far and what we are doing to ensure it doesn’t happen again.”
Feeling out of the loop? We'll catch you up on the Chicago news you need to know. Sign up for the weekly Chicago Catch-Up newsletter here.
Valencia’s connections to her husband’s lobbying have been a frequent line of attack used by fellow Secretary of State candidate Alexi Giannoulias. Tabares has endorsed Giannoulias in the race to replace current Secretary of State Jesse White, who is not seeking reelection.
White has endorsed Valencia in the election.
Emails obtained by NBC 5 show that Valencia assisted Kazmi’s lobbying business on several occasions.
Kazmi and Ignite Cities had received a contract to ramp up internet speeds in New Orleans, but the company was forced to withdraw amid allegations of contract-rigging.
Ignite Cities also sought a contract with the Illinois Medical District, according to Politico.
In both cases, Valencia wrote emails from her city account on behalf of her husband’s clients, according to reporting done by WCIA.
Valencia initially amended her required statements of financial interests on March 15 after NBC 5 revealed that she did not list Monterrey Security, a company with clout-heavy city contracts, on the forms. Her husband lobbied on behalf of the company.
She also amended the forms to include two other businesses that were not listed initially, with Chicago Commons and Black Dog Corporation both added to her disclosures.
Valencia’s campaign has denied any wrongdoing in the case, saying that she is not involved in her husband’s businesses and that “she’s shut him down any time he’s even close to crossing a line.”
If she were to be elected as Secretary of State, she would be in charge of the registration of lobbyists in the state of Illinois.
Meanwhile, the Chicago City Council has debated an ordinance that would prohibit the spouses or partners of elected officials from lobbying alderpersons.
“Our spouses, our significant others have access to us and our colleagues that no other person has,” Ald. Howard Brookins said in March. “So the undo influence – with respect to that – can be magnified tenfold.”