CHICAGO – City Hall is on the defense after hackers released to the public a cache of emails between Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and her staff.
Tens of thousands of city e-mails were stolen during a data transfer to an outside law firm. The messages were sent or received by four former city employees over a two-year period.
The Lightfoot administration says reporting on the release of hacked e-mails makes everyone less safe and encourages hacking.
Monday morning, the Chicago Sun-Times published a story, citing the e-mails, that looked at whether the Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA) is violating state law by investigating fatal Chicago police shootings.
E-mails show Mayor Lightfoot’s staff repeatedly presented to her alternatives to COPA handling the investigations. Lightfoot said Monday she would not touch the substance of the hacked e-mails.
“I’m not going to be commenting on specific e-mails, things that may be extrapolated out because we have no way of knowing whether or not those e-mails are in fact legitimate,” she said.
The hacked messages were given to the Jones Day law firm as part of a review of how the city handled the police raid on Anjanette Young’s home. The city says the emails were stolen when Jones Day transferred them to a third party.
The emails were posted online by Distributed Denial of Secrets, a WikiLeaks-type organization. WGN News has not independently verified the e-mails.
Among other topics reportedly covered – Lightfoot’s apparent opposition to Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart’s office releasing inmates from jail during the start of the pandemic and Lightfoot’s concerns about enforcement of stay-at-home orders.
For now, details remain unconfirmed. The mayor and city departments declined to respond to questions stemming from the hack.
“I would just be very, very cautious,” Lightfoot added. “I’ve seen this happen in other instances. I’ve seen it from my perspective as a lawyer representing clients, and oftentimes what happens is you get things out of context, or they’ve been manipulated to make a particular political statement.”