Stone-McDonough Ethics Complaint-1
Submitted by Jay Stone May 22, 2019
Also Submitted by Patrick McDonough
Alderman Burke’s Improper Inﬂuence and Conﬂicts of Interest
This ethics complaint against Alderman Edward Burke is similar to the $2,000 Chicago Board of Ethics ﬁne Alderman Burke recently received for “improper inﬂuence.” Previously Alderman Burke improperly presided over the Committee on Finance in a matter involving his law practice client named Presence. In this ethics complaint Alderman Burke repeatedly used improper inﬂuence on behalf of eight unions who hired him for legal services.
Alderman Burke provided legal representation for the eight unions listed in the table below. Next to the name of the union is the years Alderman Burke provided legal representation for the said union. Please note that we are awaiting a FOIA response for Alderman Burke’s 2011 through 2013 Statement of Financial Interest.
Union Name Years Alderman Burke Provided Legal Services to the Unions International Union of Operating Engineers 2013, 2014, 2015, 2018 Iron Workers Local 1 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018, 2019 Chicagoland Laborers 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 Plumbers Local 130 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 Carpenters 2017, 2018, 2019 Fireﬁghters 2017, 2018, 2019 International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers 2019 International Brotherhood of Teamsters 2019
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At the December 12, 2007 City Council meeting, Committee on Finance Chairman Burke sponsored the ratiﬁcation of collective bargaining agreements (CBA) between the City and thirty-four (34) unions (Click here and see December 12, 2007, Journal of City Council Proceedings, Committee on Finance Report, pages 17006-17010). Previously Alderman Burke chaired the Committee on Finance hearings on the CBAs. Alderman Burke also proposed the motion and voted to approve the collective bargaining agreements of all 34 unions at the full City Council meeting.
The unions whom Alderman Burke voted in favor of their CBAs at the December 12, 2007 City Council meeting and who became his private law practice clients are the Carpenters, Electrical Workers, Iron Workers, Operating Engineers, Plumbers, and Teamsters unions.
The 34 CBAs that Alderman Burke voted for in his Committee on Finance and in the full City Council remain in eﬀect today. Furthermore, when Alderman Burke provided legal services to the Carpenters, Electrical Workers, Iron Workers, Operating Engineers, Plumbers, and Teamsters unions, the unions’ CBAs that Alderman Burke voted in favor of were still in eﬀect.
At the July 30, 2014 City Council meeting, Alderman Burke voted to approve the Chicago Fireﬁghters Union’s CBA (Click here and see July 30, 2014, Journal of City Council Proceedings, pages 86154-86155). The Fireﬁghters’ CBA that Alderman Burke voted for was still in eﬀect when Alderman Burke provided legal services to the union.
The Chicago Governmental Ethics Ordinance (GEO), 2-156-080, Conﬂicts of Interest; Appearance of Impropriety forbade Alderman Burke from providing the eight unions legal service while the CBA’s he voted on were still in eﬀect. The unions’ hiring of Alderman Burke after he voted in favor of the CBAs gives the appearance that the unions paid Alderman Burke for legal services in exchange for his political inﬂuence and union contract support. Furthermore, the City and the unions will soon renegotiate
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their CBAs. Alderman Burke accepting money from the eight labor unions can be construed as unethical because these unions have impending CBA negotiations.
Alderman Burke’s Workers’ Compensation Conﬂicts of Interest
Alderman Burke administered the workers’ compensation claims for the members of all eight unions listed in the above table. Alderman Burke personally proﬁting from unions who have members with workers’ compensation claims before him is clearly a Chicago Governmental Ethics Ordinance conﬂict of interest. Alderman Burke received personal compensation from the unions at the same time he administered workers’ claims for members of those unions.
2-156-080. Conﬂicts of Interest; Appearance of Impropriety.
(a) No oﬃcial or employee shall make or participate in the making of any governmental decision with respect to any matter in which he has any ﬁnancial interest distinguishable from that of the general public, or from which he has derived any income or compensation during the preceding twelve months or from which he reasonably expects to derive any income or compensation in the following twelve months.
Alderman Burke listed on his 2013 through 2019 Statement of Financial Interests that he had a “ﬁnancial interest” with the eight unions listed above. According to the GEO, Section 2-156-080 (a), Alderman Burke was prohibited from participating and making workers’ compensation decisions involving the members of the eight unions that hired his private law ﬁrm for legal business. Alderman Burke’s workers’ compensation decisions involving members of the Carpenters, Electrical Workers, Fireﬁghters, Iron Workers, Laborers, Operating Engineers, Plumbers, and Teamsters unions violated GEO, Section 2-156-080 (a). It should be a separate ethical violation each time Alderman Burke administered a workers’ compensation case involving members of one of the eight unions who hired him for legal services.
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Alderman Burke’s TIF District Conﬂicts of Interest
During the last eight years Alderman Burke pushed through 78 tax increment ﬁnancing districts (TIFs) through his Committee on Finance and the City Council. Each TIF agreement has a Prevailing Wage clause, such as the one below.
Prevailing Wage. The Developer, the General Contractor and all subcontractors must pay the prevailing wage rate as ascertained by the Illinois Department of Labor (the “Department”), to all persons working on the Project. All such contracts shall list the speciﬁed rates to be paid to all laborers, workers and mechanics for each craft or type of worker or mechanic employed pursuant to such contract. If the Department revises such prevailing wage rates, the revised rates shall apply to all such contracts. Upon the City’s request, the Developer shall provide the City with copies of all such contracts entered into by the Developer or the General Contractor to evidence compliance with this Paragraph D. (Click here and see April 18, 2018, Journal of City Council Proceedings, Volume 1 Committee on Finance Report, page 75125.)
The prevailing wage usually means union wage. Alderman Burke deliberately put prevailing wage clauses in TIF agreements to protect the unions who hired him for his legal services. If TIF agreements allowed developers to pay their construction workers less than the prevailing wage, then they it would be more likely that developers would hire non-union employees. Alderman Burke’s requirement that developers with TIF agreements pay employees the prevailing wage coerces developers to hire union workers, including the unions that payed Alderman Burke for his legal services.
Alderman Burke dual jobs of preparing and passing TIF district agreements requiring employees receive a prevailing wage and a private attorney for eight unions is a conﬂict of interest. Alderman Burke inserted the prevailing wage clause into TIF agreements as a means to beneﬁt the unions who hired him for legal services and contributed to his
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political campaigns. Each time Alderman Burke inserted a prevailing wage clause into a TIF agreement and voted for it was a separate violation of Chicago’s ethics ordinance.