Ald. Ed Burke Paid Nearly $400K in Legal Fees Last Quarter, Records Show

The three payments to two Chicago law firms still left Burke with about $8.7 million in just one of his three campaign accounts

Embattled Chicago Ald. Ed Burke paid nearly $400,000 in legal fees from his campaign account in August and September, according to his political committee's quarterly report filed with the Illinois State Board of Elections Thursday afternoon.

The report, detailing contributions and expenditures for the "Friends of Edward M. Burke" committee from July 1 to Sept. 30, shows three payments made to two Chicago law firms totaling $391,582.74.

The first payment was made on Aug. 5 to Loeb & Loeb for $73,873.85, according to the report. The second was $245,348.70 to Jenner & Block on Sept. 12, records show, and the third was made again to Loeb & Loeb for $72,360.19 on Sept. 17.

Burke, who has represented the 14th Ward on the city's Southwest Side since 1969, was indicted in May on multiple charges of corruption. Prosecutors allege he used his office to solicit bribes and work for his private law firm - specializing in property tax appeals - from companies with business before the city of Chicago.

Burke, 75, entered a plea of not guilty in June to more than a dozen federal charges, including racketeering, bribery and attempted extortion. A longtime political aide to Burke and a Chicago real estate developer were also charged in the 19-count indictment and have pleaded not guilty as well.

The nearly $400,000 in legal fees leaves Burke's campaign account with just shy of $8.7 million between cash on hand and investments - still far and away the largest war chest of any sitting alderman.

And in serving as the 14th Ward's Democratic committeeman, Burke also chairs his ward's campaign account, which has nearly $456,000 cash on hand, per its quarterly filing. He chairs a third committee as well, "The Burnham Committee," which campaign finance records show has more than $1.87 million in its coffers.

Burke, who is the longest-serving alderman in Chicago history, was initially charged with attempted extortion in January following raids on his offices at City Hall and in the 14th Ward late last year. The May indictment superseded that charge.

Burke was forced to resign from his long-held position as the powerful chair of the City Council Committee on Finance in January, following that initial charge. He then spent close to $900,000 to fend off two challengers in the municipal election in February, ultimately winning another four-year term.

Attorneys for Burke and the prosecution appeared in court Tuesday, with both sides acknowledging before the judge that the case has produced 40,000 pages of discovery.

The next court appearance in the case is scheduled for Jan. 23, when the judge indicated a trial date may be set.

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