Mayor Rahm Emanuel wants Ald. Ed Burke removed from his powerful post as chairman of the Chicago City Council's Finance Committee after the longtime alderman was charged with attempted extortion, a top mayoral aide told NBC 5.
"Based on what we’ve seen in the complaint, the mayor believes it is unacceptable for him to continue as Chairman of the Finance Committee," the aide said in a statement.
Several aldermen were reluctant to speak on camera, but mayoral candidate and state Comptroller Susana Mendoza called for Burke to resign his committee post.
“Given the seriousness of today's allegation against Alderman Ed Burke, it is time for him to fully focus on the charge against him and resign his chairmanship of the Committee on Finance," Mendoza said in a statement. "Should he chose not to do so, the City Council and Mayor should move swiftly to force it."
Burke was charged with attempted extortion for "corruptly soliciting business" for his law firm, weeks after federal agents conducted raids at his 14th Ward office and his finance committee suite.
Burke turned himself in on Thursday and was seen entering the federal courthouse downtown with his attorneys. He was given a $10,000 bond and ordered to surrender his passport and the 23 firearms the government said he had in his possession.
Burke is the longest-serving alderman in Chicago history and is considered the most prolific fundraiser on the City Council, with more than $12 million in three campaign committees as of the most recent filing deadline on Sept. 30.
Burke runs a law firm specializing in property tax appeals, and had previously worked for President Donald Trump on lowering taxes for his namesake Chicago tower. His firm, Klafter & Burke, stopped representing Trump earlier this year.
In 10 of Burke’s 11 elections, he has faced no challengers. Burke faces four potential challengers in the Feb. 26, 2019, election, though two of the candidates face petition challenges.
"I think it's nothing new," said Tanya Patino, candidate for the 14th Ward. "I think that he's probably done this multiple times. He just never got caught, and it finally caught up to him."
"It sounds like something small, but it really isn't. It's something big, and I think carries up to 20 years in jail," said 14th Ward candidate Jaime Guzman. So this is serious. It's about time that something of this sort of magnitude occurs."
A spokeswoman for mayoral candidate Gery Chico, who Burke endorsed, issued a statement saying "no one is above the law."
"Gery has known Ed Burke for three decades, and he's extremely disappointed. No one is above the law. While we will closely watch the case as it plays out in the court system, Gery obviously will not accept support from Ed Burke in the upcoming mayoral race."