Burke (finally) loses bodyguards, but how did he keep them for years?

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CHICAGO --  Alderman Ed Burke was charged with attempted extortion but he has still maintained his security detail.

Back in 2011, then candidate for mayor, Rahm Emanuel vowed to ditch the detail.

“Ed Burke today has six police officers.  That just can’t continue,” Emanuel said at the time. “I believe this is the right arrangement for the city, the right arrangement for him and the right arrangement for taxpayers.  And I believe that’s that.”

But nearly eight years after he made that promise, Burke still has a security detail. As recently as Monday morning, the alderman was seen getting into an unmarked police SUV.

WGN Investigates  has learned how Burke has managed to keep his bodyguards on the city payroll for all these years.

Sources told WGN Investigates, under pressure from Burke, then-police superintendent Gary McCarthy signed-off on a new designation for Burke’s bodyguards.

They would be declared “special police.”  Meaning they’d have all the power of police officers but be paid for by Burke’s Finance Committee rather than the police department.

Now, mayoral candidate McCarthy blamed Emanuel’s City Hall lawyers for crafting the deal and “special police” designation.

Burke’s office has made no comment.

All this may be a moot point since Burke will resign Monday afternoon his chairmanship of the finance committee.

Burke will relinquish the source of some of his power effective 5 p.m.

WGN Investigates has obtained a copy of Burke’s letter officially resigning as chairman of the City Council’s Finance Committee, a position he’s held continuously since 1989.

“Pursuant to Rule 36 of the City Council Rules of Order and Procedure, I am hereby tendering my resignation as Chairman of the Committee on Finance effective 5:00 p.m. Monday, January 7, 2019. Yours truly, Edward M. Burke,” the letter simply states.

Federal prosecutors charged Burke with attempted extortion last week.  He’s accused of withholding building permits for the owner of a large Burger King franchise who refused Burke’s overtures to use his private law practice.  Burke denies wrongdoing and has said he will continue to serve alderman of the 14th ward and will seek re-election in February.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has named his floor leader, Ald. Pat O’Connor, to replace Burke as chairman of the finance committee.

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