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Ald. Jim Gardiner fined $20,000 for retaliating against critic

Ald. Jim Gardiner fined over ethics violations
Ald. Jim Gardiner fined over ethics violations 00:47

CHICAGO (CBS) -- The Chicago Board of Ethics has fined Ald. Jim Gardiner (45th) $20,000, after finding probable cause he committed 10 ethics violations, by retaliating against a constituent who frequently criticized him.

In July, the Chicago Inspector General's office found Gardiner "directed City employees to issue unfounded citations for overgrown weeds and rodents to the home of a constituent who had been publicly critical of the alderperson."

Although Gardiner was not specifically named in the report, the inspector general's report said he went ahead with plans to have the constituent cited, even after being told the plants in his yard were legal.

Those citations could have cost his constituent $600, but they were ultimately thrown out by a judge.

The Board of Ethics fined Gardiner $2,000 for each of 10 violations of the city's ethics rules.

The constituent in this case, Peter Czosnyka, also has said that a neighbor plowed over his front yard with her SUV in 2021, because of his criticism of Gardiner. Czosnyka said the same woman in the same SUV drove by hours earlier yelling at him to leave Gardiner alone.

The ethics board's ruling comes after a federal judge ruled last month that Gardiner violated the First Amendment by blocking Czosnyka and five other critics from his official Facebook page. The judge barred Gardiner from blocking anyone from his official Facebook page or restricting comments on his page until he comes up with a moderation policy that complies with the First Amendment.

Gardiner is still facing several lawsuits filed by other constituents, including James Suh, who claims the alderman improperly obtained his past arrest record, and sought to leak it after that constituent publicly criticized Gardiner.

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