FBI seizes files as Chicago aldermen oust oversight

FBI seizes files as Chicago aldermen oust oversight

Chicago aldermen are now operating without a city watchdog.

Chicago is America’s corruption capital.

So it may come as no surprise that as of Nov. 16, Chicago politicians have effectively turned out the lights on oversight of the City Council. The city’s four-year contract with Legislative Inspector General Faisal Khan has expired. There is no replacement in waiting.

Fortunately, Khan was able to coordinate the transfer of ongoing criminal investigations to the appropriate authorities. FBI officials arrived at his office at 740 N. Sedgwick St. on the afternoon of Nov. 13 to pick up investigative documents, computers and other files, according to the Chicago Tribune.

As if there were any reason to doubt the importance of oversight in the Windy City, Khan published a report on Nov. 13 showing more than half of Chicago aldermen took illegal campaign contributions in 2013.

More than 30 Chicago aldermen have been convicted of federal crimes over the past 40 years, according to work from political researchers Thomas Gradel and Dick Simpson. These crimes include bribery, extortion, embezzlement, conspiracy, mail fraud and income-tax evasion.

Aldermen are granted immense power in Chicago relative to other U.S. cities. And Khan’s office was rendered powerless to pursue investigations actively and effectively.

Khan supports transferring the responsibilities of his office to Chicago Inspector General Joe Ferguson. And an ordinance filed in April to do just that boasts 23 co-sponsors.

But powerful aldermen Ed Burke, 14th Ward, and Carrie Austin, 34th Ward, have reportedly put the brakes on this commonsense reform. When a City Hall reporter asked Burke about this issue, Burke simply walked away.

Chicagoans deserve a government they can trust. Instead, they are met with silence, a cold shoulder and a shroud of darkness over City Council.

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