Chicago’s longest-serving alderman, Ed Burke, who’s become embroiled in allegations of corruption and extortion, is a member of Loyola’s Council of Regents.
But you’d never know about his connection to the school by looking at the council’s website. Last week, Burke’s name was absent from an otherwise seemingly comprehensive list of members, which, as of Tuesday, is gone from the site altogether. The school says it has “no knowledge of a change to his status on the Council of Regents.”
Burke, alderman of Chicago’s 14th ward and former chair of City Council’s Committee on Finance, has been charged with attempted extortion in a case unsealed Jan. 3. Burke was allegedly using his political status to gain business for his law firm. His city hall and ward offices were raided by the FBI in November and his city hall office was visited again by the feds in December.
When sent a list of questions, including a request for comment from university president Jo Ann Rooney, university spokesperson Evangeline Politis responded: “Ed Burke has not stepped down from the council. The University has no further comment beyond that.”
Burke and his attorney couldn’t be reached for comment, but he’s publicly said he’s not guilty.
Along with his membership on the Council of Regents, which is a high-profile advisory group of “ambassadors” for the school, Burke’s campaign organizations have a history of donating to Loyola and the Council of Regents, according to the Illinois State Board of Elections.
The Council of Regents differs from the Board of Trustees, which oversees certain financial and administrative decisions.
Since 2004, more than $90,000 has been donated to the university from Burke’s campaign war chest, including a $5,000 contribution recorded around two weeks ago — after Burke’s offices had been raided and his charges had been revealed.
While the contribution was recorded as “received” this month, it’s unclear when the donation actually took place.
Politis didn’t respond when asked whether the school will return any of the money.
Loyola’s Council of Regents has had issues with allegedly corrupt politicians in the past. In 2008, council member and chief of staff to disgraced former Governor Rod Blagojevich, John Harris was arrested and charged with corruption, The Phoenix reported.
Harris resigned his post as chief of staff after he was arrested in 2008 while Burke is currently running for re-election in his ward.
The federal authorities alleged Harris and Blagojevich discussed auctioning former President Barack Obama’s open Senate seat during wiretapped phone calls. Harris was sentenced in 2012 to 10 days in prison, two years of supervised release and a $10,000 fine while Blagojevich was sentenced to 14 years in prison by the same judge.