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Lightfoot: I'll Recommend City Inspector General Investigate Allegations Against Ald. Gardiner

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot is recommending the city's inspector general look into the allegations against embattled Ald. James Gardiner (45th).

At a CDOT news conference, Lightfoot said she spoke to the alderman last week about his comments towards women, but not about reports of him denying city services to constituents.

"First and foremost, no one should ever be denied access to city services because of their political opinion, who they may have supported in an election. That's just not how we do things," Lightfoot said. "I'm the mayor for the entire city. People who agree with me or don't agree with me. We will never support any effort to deny city services. It's fundamental."

As for Gardiner's retaliations and other incidents, Lightfoot said there needs to be an official city investigation into Gardiner's actions.

"We are going to recommend to the inspector general's office that an investigation happen. So we can actually get to the bottom with what did happen," Lightfoot said, who said she spoke to the alderman last week about his conduct.

"At that time, the allegations were really focused on what I thought disparaging conduct and comments about women. I was not unsparing in telling him I thought the words attributed to him were absolutely unacceptable and I have been public about the fact that he and I had that conversation."

RELATED: Ald. Gardiner Said He Could Not Make Permit Parking Exception For Portage Park Building But CBS 2 Learned He Made Such Exceptions

Lightfoot added "I also did say to him, at that time, that the allegation that he was denying access to city services on the part of anybody who just because they supported somebody different during election is just not acceptable."

The latest concerns about Gardiner's conduct are that he used a ward staffer to get private court records he could use in retaliation. CBS 2 Political Investigator Dana Kozlov obtained relevant texts, and talks to the man Gardiner allegedly targeted.

James Suh lives in the 45th Ward. When Kozlov asked him if he felt violated, he replied, "Of course, I definitely do."

In 2019, Suh organized a rally against the then-newly-elected Ald. Gardiner – protesting Gardiner's stance on a senior development project at Six Corners – Milwaukee Avenue, Cicero Avenue, and Irving Park Road – in the Portage Park neighborhood. A day later, texts indicated Gardiner wanted revenge.

CBS 2 obtained the text exchange directly from one of Gardiner's former staffers, who saved them. The staffer said a ward employee got court records through a relative who works in the Cook County Circuit Court Clerk's office, and passed them on.

Under pictures of those records, Gardiner texts: "James Suh says I overstep boundaries? Maybe that gets leaked."

Afterward comes a discussion about getting Suh's mug shot and sharing the information with an ally who runs a ward Facebook page.

"For sure, there needs to be some sort of punitive action," Suh said.

Facing withering criticism for a series of offensive texts about women and his colleagues, Gardiner called to apologize to at least one of his targets, Ald. Scott Waguespack, sources told CBS 2.

Waguespack (32nd) said Gardiner (45th) needs to apologize to all the people involved.

In some of the texts, which were obtained by the CBS 2 Political Investigator Dana Kozlov, Gardiner refers to women as "bitch" and used that word to describe a fellow alderman.

Lightfoot stressed again the offensive nature of Gardiner's words and how that behavior was unacceptable.

"There are certain words that should never, ever, be said or written. And definitely not about women. That's not acceptable and I've been very clear with him and anybody's who's asked me about it," Lightfoot said. "A consistent pattern of using what I would say is misogynistic language, about women, unacceptable. Totally, utterly unacceptable."

She added in regards to allegations of Gardiner denying residents city services, Lightfoot said that won't be tolerated either.

"Under no circumstances, any circumstances, should a resident be denied access to city services simply because of their political choice or affiliation. That's not OK either."

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