CHICAGO — Protesters took to Jefferson Park Monday night, calling for the resignation of Ald. Jim Gardiner (45th Ward) after he was accused of retaliatory behavior and using derogatory language against women.
Constituents said they feel the ward deserves better leadership, following reports that the freshman alderman has abused his power in office since being elected in 2019.
The Chicago Tribune reports that the FBI has now launched an investigation over whether Gardiner retaliated against constituents for political purposes.
Leaked text messages from a former staffer allegedly show him using misogynistic, homophobic and derogatory language towards colleagues and constituents. Gardiner is also accused of withholding city services from those who criticized him and asking a former staffer to obtain court documents with the intention of retaliating against a resident who opposed him.
James Suh said he was retaliated against when he protested the alderman’s decision to turn down the Six Corners Development Project in Portage Park in 2019. “
“In response to that protest, Gardiner had already pulled court records on me and directed staff to disseminate those documents to supporters in an effort to damage my reputation,” Suh said.
Members of the group United Northwest Side told WGN News that Gardiner also directed staff to run background checks on a list of constituents, business owners, developers, and a woman who had a restraining order against him in 2017.
“What he is doing is using the power we have given him as an elected official to carry out personal vendettas and that’s not OK and we’re not going to let him do it,” said United Northwest Side president Sarah Gronkiewicz.
One rallygoer, who declined to give his name in fear of retaliation, described two other concerning incidents:
“There are vocal critics of him online who have had bricks thrown through their windows. There was a member of our organization who had a highly publicized event where one of his supporters drove a car through his lawn and totaled another nearby car,” the rallygoer said.
On Friday, Mayor Lori Lightfoot called on the Office of the Inspector General to investigate.
The Cook County Democratic Party is also looking into a complaint filed by 13 city alderman.
Monday morning, a committee met and passed the issue to their rules and bylaws committee.