Details Slowly Emerge in Raid of Ald. Carrie Austin’s Office

A day after federal agents raided the offices of Chicago Ald. Carrie Austin, new details are beginning to emerge over what exactly it was they were looking for.

On Thursday, NBC 5 learned about questions surrounding the home Austin built three years ago. The home is in an area where the alderman requested a zoning change, and it was also part of a TIF district, according to sources.

Documents show that Austin requested a zoning change in April 2016 for the land where her home, as well as a group of condominiums, were built.

The developers building the project received a $3.6 million TIF for six single family homes and 80 condos, according to the documents.

Just four months after the zoning upgrade on the land, Austin received a building permit to build a $300,000 home on the site. The land she owns in the area, a total of 70,000 square feet, is valued at nearly $900,000.

The investigation into Austin is part of a growing effort from federal investigators into the workings of the Chicago City Council. Austin, who is the former Chairman of the Budget Committee, is just the latest alderman to come under scrutiny, as Alderman Ed Burke’s offices were raided last November, and Alderman Danny Solis, once chairman of the Zoning Committee, was also involved in the investigation.

In an effort to fight allegations of impropriety, Alderman Scott Waguespack, chairman of the Finance Committee, said that aldermen will no longer be allowed to meet one-on-one with developers.

“We will not be meeting them alone,” he said. “Meeting one-on-one with these people is going to stop.”

During Thursday’s Democratic slate-making meeting, there was no sign of Austin, Burke, or Solis, despite all three being ward committeemen.

Austin also canceled an evening meeting in her ward that had been set for Thursday evening.

The U.S. Attorney and the FBI have had no comment on the Austin case after reports emerged of Wednesday’s raid. The next Chicago City Council meeting is set for July 24.

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