A real estate firm controlled by White Sox and Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf is potentially ensnared in one of the city’s biggest corruption scandals.
A 2015 FBI recording that surfaced reveals former Ald. Danny Solis planned to solicit campaign contributions from Reinsdorf’s development group, just as their proposal for a $40 million-dollar apartment complex was about to come across Solis’ desk for approval, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
Michigan Avenue Real Estate Group — led by Reinsdorf — built the complex in Solis’ ward after razing Carmichael’s Steakhouse on 1052 W. Monroe St. in 2015.
The group signed a $10 million-dollar deal to buy the restaurant, less than two months after Solis spoke about soliciting campaign contributions from Reinsdorf’s partner, Thomas Meador, recording transcripts show.
While Meador denies he ever received that call, a month later, Solis received two separate $5,000 campaign contributions — one from each of Meador’s business associates, the company’s chairman Robert Judelson (a longtime Reinsdorf business partner who co-founded JMB Realty and Balcor Realty) and the company’s executive vice president Al Lieberman, according to the Sun-Times.
The three made 23 campaign donations that total $79,300, the Sun-Times reported. Reinsdorf himself did not donate any contributions to Solis.
“We obviously gave him contributions,” Meador told the Sun-Times. “It’s public record. There was no quid pro quo. All the developers give to all the aldermen.”
This is the latest development in a scandal that has gripped Chicago’s real estate and political players since the start of the year. Solis went undercover and wore a wire for over two years, delivering damaging information about powerful Alderman Ed Burke for an ongoing FBI investigation.
Court documents from Burke’s case revealed that Solis had allegedly received favors and solicited campaign contributions from real estate figures dependent on him for their project’s approval. Solis stepped down shortly after the story about Burke’s charges broke.