Under indictment for allegedly extorting developers, Burke trails vote count for 14th Ward Committeeperson

State Rep. Aaron Ortiz was ahead in voting early Wednesday, with Tuesday’s election too close to call

Chicago /
Mar.March 18, 2020 12:17 PM
Ald. Ed Burke & Illinois Rep. Aaron Ortiz (Credit: Kate Gardiner via Flickr; Twitter)

Ald. Ed Burke & Illinois Rep. Aaron Ortiz (Credit: Kate Gardiner via Flickr; Twitter)

Alderman Ed Burke, who is accused of extorting developers to drum up business for his private law firm, was behind in votes to retain his seat as 14th Ward Democratic Committeeperson.

As of early Wednesday, freshman state Rep. Aaron Ortiz was leading the committeeperson race with 40 percent of the vote, to Burke’s 33 percent and Alicia Elena Martinez’s 27 percent, according to the Sun-Times. The election was too close to call with 94 percent of precincts having reported.

Incumbent aldermen who hold Democratic ward committee person seats can leverage those to ensure the Cook County Democratic Party supports them over their opponents, the Sun-Times reported.

Burke has spent 50 years on the Council — he was re-elected last February — and just as long as committeeperson. Burke is still the subject of a federal corruption case in which he’s accused of extorting developers to hire his law firm in exchange for supporting their projects. The indictment shined a light on the potential for aldermen to abuse their power over zoning decisions within their ward via the unwritten rule of “aldermanic privilege.”

In November 2018, FBI agents executed search warrants on Burke’s City Hall and ward offices. Later, it was revealed that the investigation was aided by now-former Alderman Danny Solis, who wore a wire to collect evidence against his colleague. Solis cooperated with federal investigators after being found taking favors for developers in exchange for backing their interests.

For the committeeperson race, Oritz has portrayed himself as the anti-corruption candidate. Last year, he defeated Burke’s brother, Dan, in the state representative race. [Sun-Times] — Brianna Kelly


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