CHICAGO — Federal agents raided the office of Chicago’s longest serving and most powerful alderman, Ed Burke, the FBI confirmed Thursday.
"Our agents are executing warrants at multiple locations today," an FBI source told WGN News. No additional information on the nature of the investigation was provided.
Burke released a statement and said he is "cooperating fully."
"I am completely confident that at the end of the day nothing will be found amiss in this instance..." he said.
Early Wednesday morning after the raid began, federal agents put brown paper over officer windows to conceal their work.As the agents executed their warrant, no one was allowed in or out of his third floor City Hall Office.
Next door the offices of Aldermen Daniel Solis and Howard Brookins remained opened.
Brookins stopped by and told reporters he was surprised.
“I literally don’t know what’s going on,” he said. “I don’t care to speculate about anything and I wish Alderman Burke the best. He’s been a great friend and a mentor.”
Burke is a Chicago institution with 50 years on the council. He won election as Democratic committeeman for the 14th Ward in July 1968 after his father Joseph P. died of lung cancer.
His wife Anne is an Illinois Supreme Court justice. She just won retention to another term and was reportedly sworn-in during a private ceremony Thursday morning.
An expert on rules, Burke is a behind the scenes force in shaping ordinances. As Finance Committee Chair he wields enormous influence over the city’s purse strings.
Over the decades, Burke has famously faced criticism for having a Chicago police security detail. He has also come under fire for his law firm's relationship with companies belonging to President Donald Trump.
Powerful progressives such as Jesus "Chuy" Garcia have placed a bullseye on Burke’s back.
Garcia and allies defeated Burke’s brother Dan in a state House primary in March, and they’re looking to defeat him in the aldermanic election.
Brookins said the timing of the raid, three months before the election, is shocking.
“I listen to the news and I read the paper,” he said. “I didn’t think they did anything this close to an election so it’s shocking to me.”
Gov. Bruce Rauner, who rallies against the corrupt Chicago machine said the investigation is “overdue.”
The impact of the investigation is already felt in the mayoral contest. Operatives with various campaigns have been reaching out linking their opponent to Burke.
The exact nature of the FBI visit to Burke is not known. The alderman was asked if he’s worried about how news of the raid will play in his ward. Burke said 14 ward residents have known him for 50 years and they know they can trust him.