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Some Aldermen Support Removal Of Burke As Chair Of Finance Committee

CHICAGO (CBS) -- With an attempted extortion charge and legal troubles ahead, the political body armor of Ald. Ed Burke could now be showing some cracks.

burke court
Ald. Edward Burke (14th) enters the Dirksen Federal Courthouse, for an initial hearing on a charge of attempted extortion. (Credit: CBS)

Burke is up for re-election next month -- a position he's won 13 times in a row.

If voters give him the OK, only a few things can stop him from serving in city council again.

He's spent 49 years as an alderman and decades at the helm of the finance committee. Some of his colleagues say that long lasting legacy has run its course.

"That's what this type of longevity breeds," Ald. John Arena (45th) said. "It makes you too comfortable, and you feel like you're above the law."

Which is why after Burke was charged with attempted extortion Thursday Arena and others said they'll support Burke's removal as chair of the city's purse strings.

But why didn't the elected officials try to strip Burke of that power when the FBI very publicly came knocking five weeks ago? When brown paper covered his ward and city hall offices? And agents walked off with boxes of documents and hard drives?

"Well, the mayor explained it that he didn't know what the charges were," Arena said. "We didn't either. You know, you can overstep yourself. We didn't know what the feds were investigating. We have to be prudent about things. I'm not excusing that. We know what the charges are now."

It'll take a conviction, resignation, or an election loss to remove Burke from council chambers.

Here's what he said about his voters in November:

"I'm always able to cooperate in any investigation," Burke said. "As I've said there's been many investigations over the years and there's never anything found to be amiss."

Burke told CBS 2 cameras again Thursday that he's done nothing. A vote on his future as city council finance chair could come at the next city council meeting on January 23.


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