Ald. Ed Burke’s law firm adds clients with ties to local government
BY FRAN SPIELMAN City Hall Reporteremail@example.com May 4, 2011 1:32AM
Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM
Ald. Edward M. Burke (14th) has a booming law practice with clients that now include 39 companies that do business with the city or other local government agencies, according to his annual ethics statement.
The chairman of the City Council’s Finance Committee also has an investment portfolio that benefited from the stock market rebound in 2010.
Last year, Burke reported having stock in six companies that produced at least $5,000 in income. This year, his list of capital gains includes a dozen companies.
Burke is Chicago’s most powerful alderman and chairman of the City Council’s Finance Committee. He is the husband of state Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke.
He has stated repeatedly that he does not represent any of his clients in their dealings with City Hall. His firm specializes in representing clients appealing property taxes before the county.
Fourteen years ago, the Chicago Sun-Times ran a series of stories detailing the alleged conflicts between Burke’s position as Finance Committee chairman and his private role as a lawyer.
The newspaper disclosed how Burke used a rare parliamentary maneuver to change the record of four past Council votes involving his airlines clients dating back as far as seven years.
Ever since then, Burke has abstained on a host of matters before his committee — and his annual ethics statement explains why.
In 2009, Burke reported 34 law clients that did business with the city. Last year, he added five more.
The list includes: Avis Budget Group; AT&T; Bank of America; Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois; Brandenburg Industrial Service; Centerpoint Properties; Centrum Properties; Cole Taylor Bank; Columbia Michael Reese Hospital; Commonwealth Edison; Community Housing Partner XI, L.P.; Dominick’s; Elenco Electronics; Fifth Third Bank; Friedman Properties; Greater Southwest Development Corp.; The Habitat Company and Harris Bank.
Burke’s client roster also includes: Humana, Inc.; Imperial Realty; Jewel Osco; JP Morgan Chase Bank; K-Five Construction; Kenny Construction; Marc Realty; MB Real Estate; New West Realty; Northern Trust; Northwestern Memorial Hospital; Seaway National Bank; Southwest Airlines; South Shore Plumbing & Heating Supply; Standard Bank & Trust; T Mobile; U.S. Equities Realty; Union League Club of Chicago; Walgreens; WBBM and Wentworth Tire.
The Sun-Times reported last month that Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel is likely to retain Burke as Finance chairman, but shrink the roster and spending of City Council committees.
Emanuel had already declared his determination to avoid going to war with Burke even as he referenced the conflict posed by the alderman’s law practice.
“I understand he has 34 clients. I understand that he’s abstained. But, if I do it in a way that it looks like it’s so political that I’m after him, I’ve undermined what is my goal,” Emanuel told the Sun-Times in March.
“My goal is lobbying reform, ethics reform and changing the integrity of the institution. And it’s not to target one. It will apply to 50. …There are bigger issues than him and me.”
Thirty-five of Chicago’s 50 aldermen are paid $110,556-a-year. Six are taking an annual salary of $108,086. Four others get $106,644. Five draw $104,101. All 50 get an annual expense allowance of $73,280.
The salary and expense account was enough to satisfy 29 departing and incoming aldermen, who reported no other source of income in 2010.
Of the 21 aldermen who hold other jobs, six are attorneys: Burke; Robert Fioretti (2nd); Leslie Hairston (5th); Roderick Sawyer (6th); Howard Brookins (21st) and Pat O’Connor (40th).
Ald. Sandi Jackson (7th) owns J. Donatella & Associates, a Washington D.C.-based political consulting firm that has done business for the campaign committee run by her husband, U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. Aldermen Matt O’Shea, Michael Zalewski (23rd) and Danny Solis (25th) also moonlight as political consultants.
Newly-elected Ald. Debra Silverstein (50th) is an accountant. Incoming Ald. Ameya Pawar (47th) is a program assistant at Northwestern University. Ald. Will Burns (4th) is a managing director for ASGK Public Strategies and served as a consultant and deputy political director for Gov. Quinn.
Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd) is a public relations consultant. Ald. “Proco” Joe Moreno (1st) is a printing company vice-president. Ald. Tim Cullerton served as an electrician at Hawthorne Racecourse. Ald. Richard Mell (33rd) is an investment adviser. Outgoing Ald. Eugene Schulter (47th) is a bank director.
Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) still owns Ann Sather Restaurants, which catered $488.10 in meals for events held by the Chicago Public Schools.
Fioretti also lists himself as a bank director, special assistant attorney general and a special assistant Will County state’s attorney.
Seven aldermen had not yet filed their ethics statements by the May 1 deadline and face a $20 late fee if they don’t file by May 31. Newly-elected aldermen are not required to file until they are sworn in.