Federal Agents Raid Ald. Carrie Austin’s Ward Office

Federal agents raided Chicago Ald. Carrie Austin's office in the city's 34th Ward Wednesday, with multiple sources saying they were executing a search warrant. 

Agents descended on Austin's ward office, located at 507 W. 111th St. in the Roseland neighborhood on the Far South Side. The front door to the office was locked, with a passerby's knock going unanswered and private security guards later turned away. 

An unmarked white van was parked in the building's side lot, along with a black SUV and two white sedans. An employee drove the SUV, packed with boxes, away from the office at around 1:45 p.m.

A spokeswoman for the FBI said the agency was "conducting court-authorized law enforcement activities" in the area and declined to offer further comment. 

Austin has previously faced criticism and controversy for hiring her son as ward superintendent, particularly after then-Inspector General Joe Ferguson alleged in 2016 that he and a Streets and Sanitation employee covered up the details of a 2012 car accident in which Austin's son was driving without a valid license. He later resigned his position.

Austin spent her Wednesday morning with Mayor Lori Lightfoot at Percy L. Julian High School, as the two heralded the launch of a summer mentoring program for 400 vulnerable young people most likely to be impacted by gun violence.

"Today is a day truly that God has made, because he made us the star of the show," Austin said while introducing the school's principal. 

Austin and Lightfoot had previously been at odds in recent months. Austin supported Lightfoot's opponent, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, in the mayoral race, appearing onstage at a March campaign rally in which U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush warned that blood of "any young black male or female... killed by a police officer" would be on the hands of voters who elected Lightfoot.

After her election victory, Lightfoot tapped Ald. Pat Dowell to replace Austin as the City Council Budget Committee chair, a position she had long held and hoped to keep, promising to "be loyal" to Lightfoot.

Austin was instead given chairmanship of the new Committee on Contracting Oversight and Equity. After her husband died of a heart attack while in office, Austin was appointed to his seat by then-Mayor Richard M. Daley in 1994 - making her the second longest-serving Chicago alderman after Ald. Ed Burke, whose offices were raided in a similar manner last November.

Burke was indicted on more than a dozen counts of bribery, racketeering and more over allegations that he used his official position to steer work to his private law firm, specializing in property tax reductions. Burke pleaded not guilty to all charges earlier this month.

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