Special edition: Powerful alderman charged

We interrupt your email inbox for this special Chicago Public Square update on federal charges against Chicago Ald. Ed Burke.

Burke, the most powerful and longest-serving member of the City Council, is accused of attempted extortion—allegedly squeezing Burger King executives in 2017 to give his law firm business in exchange for his support of a restaurant remodeling project
… and to kick in a $10,000 campaign donation to an unnamed politician that sources tell the Tribune was Cook County Board President and now-Chicago mayoral candidate Toni Preckwinkle.
At the center of the case: A restaurant less than 100 yards from where 17-year-old Laquan McDonald was shot and killed by a Chicago cop in 2014.
Trib City Hall reporter Gregory Pratt: “Lordy, there are tapes.”
The Trib’s Jason Meisner: “Details in the 37-page complaint hint that it could be the tip of the iceberg. … The FBI had won a judge’s approval to wiretap Burke’s cellphone and was already recording his calls before the alleged shakedown.”
Burke, an ex-cop, was ordered to surrender 23 guns.
Mayor Emanuel says he wants Burke out as chairman of the City Council’s powerful Finance Committee.
Read the criminal complaint against Burke.
Veteran Sun-Times City Hall reporter Fran Spielman: Burke “often says there are only three ways to exit the City Council: ‘The ballot box. The jury box. Or the pine box.’ Now, Burke is moving closer to that second option.”
He’s been an alderman for almost 50 years, and he’s married to an Illinois Supreme Court justice just reelected in November.
A 2016 profile of the guy who owns that Burger King restaurant
… and who in 2017 agreed to pay $250,000 to settle child labor law violations.
Also from 2016: How Burke saved Donald Trump almost $12 million. (2009 photo by Kate Gardiner.)
A Trib editorial: “Burke exemplifies … aldermen and mayors who enable one another when they should be checks on one another.”

Corrections. Thursday’s regular edition of Chicago Public Square bore a couple of mistakes spotted by readers:
Charlie Pajor noted that the word “stocks” should more properly have been “shares.”
Mike Braden flagged an s missing from the end of “Chicago Public Schools.”
A reminder that readers who note an error in Square—and are first to report it to Squerror@ChicagoPublicSquare.com—get their names here. And it doesn’t matter how trivial the goof is: Square aims to get everything right, and we love having readers who take the time to help set the record straight.

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