I know, I know – the title is a redundancy, but there you are. A powerful – and by that, read “crooked as a snake with a busted back” – Chicago politician has not only been busted, but the notoriously anti-gun pol has been ordered to turn in his own personal collection of twenty-three guns. Hah! Excerpt, with my comments:
Alderman Ed Burke, 75, is charged with one count of attempted extortion for conveying to company executives in 2017 that they’d get the (city remodeling) permits only if they signed on as clients at Burke’s private property-tax law firm in Chicago, a 37-page complaint unsealed on Thursday says.
Apparently Alderman Burke was fond of the old-school “nice contracting business you’ve got there – shame if something were to… happen to it.”
For many Chicagoans suspicious of dealings behind closed doors at City Hall, Burke has personified the city’s machine politics for decades. Dozens of aldermen have entered U.S. District court on corruption charges, but Burke seemed too powerful, too wealthy and too savvy to land himself in the kind of legal trouble he now faces.
A career state police officer of my acquaintance some years back once told me that every criminal he ever encountered combined three character traits in various proportions: Greedy, mean, and stupid. Apparently the same applies to Chicago aldermen.
He sat in a packed Chicago federal courtroom Thursday afternoon with his arms folded, wearing his trademark pinstriped suit with a pocket square. Minutes later, he stood before U.S. Magistrate Sheila Finnegan, who asked if he understood the charge and that a conviction could carry a lengthy prison sentence.
“Yes, your honor,” he answered calmly.
And if there is any justice to be found in Cook County – a highly doubtful supposition – that prison sentence will indeed be lengthy.
Burke’s attorney, Charles Sklarsky, commented briefly to reporters as he left the courthouse with his client, saying he looked forward to proving Burke did nothing wrong.
“The transaction described in the complaint does not make out extortion or an attempt to extort,” he said.
Which statement is lawyerly hogwash.
Here’s the punch line:
Prosecutors told the judge that Burke, who has publicly opposed the National Rifle Association and proposed multiple gun-control ordinances over the years, had 23 guns at his offices alone. The judge said one condition of his continued release is that he gets rid of all his guns, including any at his home. He also was required to turn over his passport.
If I had a dollar for every anti-gun politician who ascribed to the “laws for thee, but not for me” school of thought, I’d have… well, a whole bunch of dollars. Like Dianne Feinstein and her politically-connected CCW permit, or Mike Bloomberg and his retinue of armed guards.
Of course this is Illinois, which state in general and Cook County in particular has a long history of political corruption, as the linked article points out:
Burke joins a long list of Illinois lawmakers charged criminally, including former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who is serving a 14-year prison term on multiple federal corruption convictions.
Now hypocrisy isn’t against the law, for which fact many members of Congress no doubt breathe the occasional sigh of relief. But there should damn well be some cost on Election Day; should be, but in all too many cases there isn’t, as much of the electorate apparently expects nothing else from pols of either party.