Alderman Edward Burke, Part II: Top Machine Boss of Obama's Chicago-Style Politics

As we watch Obama’s Chicago-style politics in action, it’s time to answer the question the old media, both in and outside Chicago, ignores to this day. Who were the key people in the Chicago Machine who helped advance Obama to the White House? One, Alderman Edward M. Burke, was an early supporter of Barack.

In the mid-1980’s, Chicago Outfit Lawyer Robert Cooley voluntarily went undercover for the FBI as part of an investigation called Operation Gambat. Cooley wore a wire on, among others, Burke’s good friend and made-man, Alderman Fred Roti. The Chief Judge of Cook County’s Chancery Court and an Assistant Senate Majority Leader of the Illinois State Senate were also targeted. Cooley’s work eventually led to the only judge in U.S. history being convicted of fixing a murder trial. More on that Judge in Part 3.

Operation Gambat resulted in a series of trials, guilty pleas and convictions involving 24 people – mobsters, police officers, politicians, attorneys, and judges.

In 2004, Cooley wrote a book wherein he accused Alderman Burke of fixing a murder trial for the Chicago Outfit. Cooley claims Burke pressured Cook County Judge Arthur Cieslik to acquit the defendant as a favor to the Outfit. The case before Judge Cieslik concerned the beating death of an African-American by a Chicago Police officer who was related to a Chicago Outfit Capo named Angelo “The Hook” LaPiertra. (Angelo liked to hang bodies on hooks.) Cooley’s book quotes Burke saying this about the case:

“It’s only a fucking nigger,” Burke said. “I can’t see what’s the big deal.”

One the cover of Cooley’s book an excerpt from a Chicago Tribune review reads,

An insider’s tour of a mob-dominated metropolis in the 1970’s and 80’s – and the high risk…federal investigation that cracked its lurid secrets.

Yet, the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times, and other local MSM outlets didn’t report on Cooley’s allegations against Burk, and Burke never sued the publisher or Cooley.

Cooley repeated the murder case-fixing allegations on three occasions, including this cable show, and this one. After the shows aired, Burke still took no legal action against Cooley.

Shortly after Governor Rod Blagojevich was arrested, Cooley appeared on Riz Khan’s internet show. Even though Burke wasn’t mentioned by name, there’s no doubt that Cooley was talking about him.

The people in power, the first thing they have to do, they have to get control of the media. The perfect example was my case. The main person that I attempted to give information on, the person who was in charge of a lot of things, the person who was able to pick all the judges, was one of my main targets. While he also happens to be the same person who’s able to give out all the money in the city; he’s Chairman of the Finance Committee in Chicago.

He was able to hire the U.S. Attorney who was supposed to prosecute him, pay him huge sums of money and he never got prosecuted. There was no explanation as to why he didn’t. He just was not prosecuted. To this day he continues there in that same position where he’s able to pick all the judges. He’s Chairman of the Democratic Judicial Slating Committee. He picks all the judges in Chicago.

After I reported what I did, and it was out there, that he was fixing murder cases and molesting cases, himself and his wife, his wife afterwards was appointed to the Illinois Supreme Court where she sits today. When she ran for re-election nobody dared oppose her. I mean that’s the basic problem with Chicago and why Chicago will not change, because the people in charge are the most powerful people, have the media in their pockets.

What I did when I came forward was I attempted to give information to different people in the media, both the TV people, also the newspaper people. They indicated they could not do my story without verification from the judge involved. I convinced the judge involved to go on the record. He was terrified. He didn’t want to because he was afraid of the mob connections of this particular person. He eventually did. After he did the reporter reported back to me: ‘We are not allowed to do this story,’ end of conversation. ‘We are not allowed to do this story on him.’

That’s why you have the problem you have in Chicago and it will not change.

In his interview with Khan, Cooley alleged that Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich was once a bookmaker for the Chicago Outfit in the 1980’s. After the Khan interview, WLS-TV reporter Chuck Goudie did four stories on Cooley’s allegation. The first dealt with Cooley’s statement that Blagojevich paid a “street tax” to the Outfit. The second dealt with a mafia associate denying knowing Blagojevich. In the third, former Senior FBI Agent James Wagner revealed that Cooley told the FBI about Blagojevich. In April of 2009, in his fourth story, Goudie asked Blagojevich about Cooley’s accusation. Blagojevich said,

That Cooley is a liar,” he said. “I am going to sue that (bleepin’) Cooley,” Blagojevich stated, his face red at this point with apparent anger. He repeated: “I’m going to sue him.”

But Blago didn’t sue Cooley or WLS. Neither did Burke. Strangely enough, Goudie’s follow-up stories on Khan’s interview with Cooley didn’t even mention Cooley’s accusations against Burke.

Obviously, the Chicago MSM is afraid to criticize Alderman Burke. And, the allegations of Blagojevich’s bookmaking activities never made it to the Chicago Sun-Times or the Chicago Tribune.

The July 30, 2003, Chicago Sun-Times edition ran a piece by Fran Spielman entitled “Burke Takes Action Against TV Reporter’s Address.” It described how Burke, in an audacious display of power, intimidated a local reporter.

The curious public feud between City Council’s most powerful alderman and one of Chicago’s highest profile television reporters was turned up a notch Wednesday. Unable to persuade WLS-TV Channel 7 to pull reporter Andy Shaw off the City Hall beat because of the bed and breakfast Shaw and his wife run out of their Lincoln Park home, Finance Committee Chairman, Edward M. Burke (14th) did what he considers to be the next best thing. He introduced a legislative “order” directing six city departments–Fire, Revenue, Buildings, Streets and Sanitation, Zoning and Public Health–to enforce “any and all provisions” of the municipal code at only one address:607 West Deming. That happens to be the address of the Windy City Urban Inn, where the Shaws have continued to rent seven rooms at their three-story mansion…

The Chicago MSM fear of the city’s most powerful alderman may be based on more than just the threat of City Hall recriminations against pesky reporters. After all, there are business interests involved, too. For example: Aldermen are allowed to have income sources in addition to their city salaries. Burke runs a successful property tax appeals law firm. One Klafter & Burke client is WBBM, the Chicago affiliate of CBS.

According to Cooley, after he left Chicago, the FBI asked him to help build a case against Burke.

A couple of years after I left Chicago, the FBI had me fly into Milwaukee to help develop a case against Ed Burke…They put me up in a hotel and even got a conference room for the day. The agents told me they were finally ready to investigate Burke. I just laughed at them. “Why are you wasting my time?” I asked. “Nothing is going to happen to him.” “Oh, no,” one agent said. “We’re here to build a case.”

To date, there’s been no such case.

There is more to come…

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