Emanuel says it’s too soon to ask for Ald. Burke to step down amid investigation

Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Friday it was “too quick” to ask Ald. Ed Burke (14th) to step down as alderman or even as the chairman of the City Council’s Finance Committee, a day after federal agents raided Burke’s City Hall and ward offices.

At a news conference announcing that the  San Francisco tech giant Salesforce is bringing 1,000 jobs to Chicago, Emanuel fielded questions on the City Council’s longest serving alderman being under federal scrutiny.

“We live in a country of laws,” Emanuel said. “They haven’t even charged him, and so all I would say is the decisions about what happens in the 14th Ward are to the voters of the 14th Ward.”

“It’s not even 24 hours, it’s too quick to even jump to” removing Burke from either of his posts, Emanuel said.

Emanuel said he didn’t know agents were coming to raid Burke’s offices and he wasn’t going to “hypothesize about what it could or could not be.”

Federal agents showed up around 7:30 a.m., unannounced at Burke’s City Hall office and spent hours behind papered over windows and doors — around 1:40 p.m. some left with one cardboard file box, a computer and two computer monitors.

Burke has dodged federal investigations in the past over the course of his five decades on the Chicago political scene.

A source told the Sun-Times the raids were in response to new allegations and not prompted by any past controversies that have swirled around Burke. That means, for now, the investigation isn’t focused on Burke’s property-tax-appeal work for President Donald Trump, or Burke’s oversight of a city workers’ compensation fund, among other matters.

Emanuel said that he wouldn’t engage in “guess work,” choosing instead to focus on closing out his tenure as mayor.

“Here’s how I look at this: you have 1,000 questions, I have 2,000,” Emanuel said. “What we both don’t have is any answers and that’s all I can say about it and it’s obviously significant . . . ”

Contributing: Fran Spielman, Jon Seidel and Mark Brown


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