Embattled Ald. Ed Burke's son was under internal investigation over allegations that he made inappropriate sexual comments at work when Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle's administration hired him, according to a new report from the Chicago Tribune.
Edward Burke Jr. spent several years working for Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, according to the Tribune, which reported Wednesday that Dart's spokeswoman said Burke Jr. left the office amid two open investigations into his conduct.
One of the investigations began when another employee of the sheriff's office alleged that Burke Jr. was "consistently disrespectful of women" and talked about sex acts in the office, according to the Tribune.
From a public records request, the Tribune reported that Burke Jr. also vowed to run for sheriff, calling himself "the law" and saying he would fire some of the office's employees when he won.
The Tribune reported that Preckwinkle's human resources chief offered Burke Jr. a position as a training and exercise manager for Cook County's Homeland Security and Emergency Management Department in December 2014, six days before he resigned in a letter to Dart.
The Tribune reported that Michael Masters, who ran that department at the time of Burke Jr.'s hire, said Burke Jr. disclosed "issues that were personal in nature" in his previous employment but that he was not aware of the allegations of sexual comments.
Masters also reportedly told the Tribune that Burke Jr. was qualified for the position and that he did not recall discussing the hire with Preckwinkle, though it would not have been unusual if they had.
A spokeswoman for Preckwinkle told the Tribune in a statement that she "didn't know there was any investigation" and said Preckwinkle and Dart, separately elected, each had "their own employment process and each maintains their own personnel records."
Preckwinkle's ties to Ald. Ed Burke have come under scrutiny in the weeks since Chicago's longest-serving City Council member in history was charged with attempted extortion.
A complaint filed in federal court against Burke alleged that the powerful alderman was "corruptly soliciting business" for his property tax law firm.
Authorities claim Burke was using his official position in an attempt to stymie renovations on a restaurant in his 14th Ward – later identified as the Burger King near the scene of the high-profile police shooting of Laquan McDonald – in an alleged effort to direct the company’s business to his own property tax law firm for personal gain.
One of the representatives of the restaurant company, identified in the complaint only as “Individual A,” told law enforcement that Burke pressured them to go to a political fundraiser for another candidate and that they “felt it necessary to attend, or at least give a donation, because otherwise Burke would not support… efforts to do business in Chicago, including at the restaurant.”
Individual A told investigators that he “made a $10,000 donation to a campaign committee for the politician, which was subsequently reduced to within the campaign contribution limit of $5,600.”
After the complaint against Burke was made public on Jan. 3, the “Preckwinkle for President” campaign committee filed an amendment to its quarterly report to reflect a “rejected contribution” from Shoukat Dhanani, listed as the owner of Tri City Foods Inc, based out of Sugar Land, Texas.
Preckwinkle said the following day that her campaign "investigated and determined the contribution was rejected," adding, "To this day, we have never accepted a contribution from the individual involved.”