A federal corruption trial that lasted six weeks concluded with the conviction of former Democratic alderman Ed Burke on charges of attempted extortion, bribery, and racketeering. The Chicago city councilman has a reputation for being a formidable political figure in the Windy City and a prominent figure among Chicago’s Democratic elite.
Thirteen of the fourteen counts against Burke were found guilty in a 2019 federal indictment. The indictment accused him of taking use of his government position to solicit business from private developers for his law practice. In addition, after rejecting an internship application from the daughter of a former politician, prosecutors claimed he threatened to raise entrance prices at the Field Museum in order to derail a legislation.
Various accounts state that he planned to extort money from the builders of a Burger King in Chicago’s 14th Ward and a Midwest booze store called Beverage Depot. A developer undergoing a $600 million restoration of the city’s Old Post Office was another target of Burke’s ire.
For two years, officials had Danny Solis, Burke’s former alderman, wear a wire as part of the federal probe into him. At one point, he was overheard claiming that Chicago developers were mistaken to believe they could curry favor with him apart from their commercial dealings.
Burke uttered several antisemitic remarks while discussing the Old Post Office project’s primary developer, who happens to be Jewish. He informed Solis that Jews are exclusive business associates except “for them” to “use” a person of a different faith.
On separate occasions, Burke boasted of elevating the daughter of a developer to the position of judge in Cook County, Chicago, and asserted that developers in the Windy City must be aware that “Chicago is a small town.” His remarks followed a phone call with a developer seeking a resolution to an issue with Amtrak.
The Democratic leader may spend the next 110 years behind bars. He and his wife walked out of the courtroom without him answering a single question from the media.