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Ald. Edward Burke, longest serving Chicago alderman, is not running for reelection

Major filing in Burke's federal case comes down same day as he declines to file for reelection bid
Major filing in Burke's federal case comes down same day as he declines to file for reelection bid 02:18

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Ald. Edward Burke (14th) – who is the longest-serving alderman in Chicago history, but is also under indictment – will not be running for reelection.

The Chicago Board of Election Commissioners confirmed Burke did not file renomination petitions by the Monday deadline. It is the end of an era as the Chicago City Council exodus continues.

As CBS 2 Political Investigator Dana Kozlov learned Monday night, this action happened the same day as a big bombshell dropped in Burke's federal bribery case.

For many years, Burke – a former Chicago Police officer – was considered the dean of the City Council. He has been an alderman since 1969 – when Richard J. Daley was mayor – and for decades chaired powerful Finance Committee.

Burke made an unsuccessful bid for Cook County State's Attorney in 1980 – losing the Democratic primary to Richard M. Daley – and launched a mayoral bid to fill the late Mayor Harold Washington's term in 1989, only later to drop out. Richard M. Daley also won that contest and became mayor.

But with no announcement and no fanfare, his tenure is coming to an end after he failed to file that petition to run for reelection.

"As far as last weekend, he was still collecting signatures – so to hear that he decided not to run was a surprise to me," said Ald. Ray Lopez (15th).

Lopez's ward borders Burke's, and the two have worked closely on many projects over the years.

One factor that may have contributed to Burke's decision is his federal trial coming up next year on charges of racketeering and bribery.

Federal agents raided Burke's ward and City Hall offices in late November 2018. Burke was charged two months later on attempted extortion charges, and later indicted on racketeering charges accusing him of using his city position to steer business to his private law firm. 

According to federal prosecutors, Burke's schemes included efforts to shake down developers behind the renovation of the Old Post Office downtown, a Chinese businessman seeking a sign permit for a project on the Northwest Side, and owners of a Burger King franchise.

Adding to Burke's case now is a filing issued Monday, which states federal prosecutors have almost 90 hours of videos of consensually recoded meetings, and more than 2,000 texts, involving a cooperating witness – former Ald. Danny Solis (25th).

Burke Filing by Adam Harrington on Scribd

Solis is named as "Alderman A" in Burke's indictment.

"I've always cooperated, and there's never anything found to be in this," Burke said in 2018.

Burke made that remark before his indictment. He has kept a low City Hall profile since City Council meetings returned in person more than a year ago.

"The case could be made, innocent until proven guilty - but I think it would have been a lot for him to try to navigate – especially considering it's a brand-new ward with all new constituency," Lopez said.

Burke did not make himself available Monday night at his Gage Park home.

As for his legacy?

"You can't ignore the cloud that he's under, and I think history will show in the long run whether or not that was just a blip, or whether that was a larger context of his tenure," Lopez said.

Nobody from Ald. Burke's 14th Ward office returned Kozlov's call for comment Monday night either. With Burke's departure. With Burke's departure, it now stands that about a third of the City Council will be composed of different people in May 2023 than it was this year.

Burke's trial is set for November of next year.

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