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Ald. Moore tries to lessen damage from ethics probe

Ald. Joe Moore

Ald. Joe Moore

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Updated: September 4, 2013 6:14AM

Ald. Joe Moore (49th) tried Friday to salvage his reputation as a self-declared champion for ethics reform with his constituents — by accusing the City Council’s handpicked inspector general of violating the law in an investigation of him.

In an email to his constituents, Moore acknowledged that “volunteers” in his taxpayer-funded North Side ward office, including an unpaid student intern, put stamps and labels on “postcards for small political mailings” several years ago.

But, Moore said: he was out of town at the time; that the political activity was confined to unpaid volunteers using postcards, labels and stamps purchased by his political fund — not his aldermanic expense account and that the behavior is “not something I support or condone. ... It should not happen again.”

But, the alderman told residents of his Far North Side ward that it is “utterly false, deeply offensive” and “completely ludicrous” for a fired staffer and legislative Inspector General Faisal Khan to suggest that he would “put my reputation and career at risk to cover up such a minor infraction.”

Last week, Moore acknowledged that he’s been questioned by the FBI about allegations by a “disgruntled employee” he called “completely false”: that he used his taxpayer-funded ward office to do political work, fired a staffer who blew the whistle on it and gave that employee an improper, $8,709 severance payment to keep her mouth shut.

In the email to his constituents, Moore accused Khan of contacting the FBI and said the agency has assured him that he is “not a target of any federal investigation.” He further accused Khan’s chief of staff of falsely accusing the alderman of “ghost-payrolling.”

Moore then unleashed his anger at Khan, whose appointment the alderman had opposed from the beginning because he favored giving the city’s Inspector General Joe Ferguson the power to investigate aldermen.

“If anyone has violated the law, it is Mr. Khan, who has acted unethically and unprofessionally throughout the so-called `investigation’ that has led to these unsubstantiated allegations against me,” Moore wrote.

Specifically, Moore accused Khan of violating a legal mandate to: get prior approval from the city’s Board of Ethics before launching an investigation or referring matters to law enforcement; keep investigations confidential; and give the subject of an investigation notice of allegations against him.

“I demand Mr. Khan meet with me immediately to justify the charges he made in his report and explain why he conducted an unauthorized investigation when the statute of limitations had expired and why he consciously avoided interviewing me and my staff,” Moore wrote.

“Otherwise, I will demand he issue me a public apology and withdraw the allegations. Should he fail to do either, I will take appropriate action to ensure he is held accountable.”

Khan could not be reached for comment.

The furor over Khan’s investigation prompted the White House to put off giving Moore a good government award—even though the alderman had traveled to Washington to receive it.

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