Old Obama Political Pal, Chicago Democratic Mainstay, Ex-Trump Lawyer Charged by Feds


Longtime Chicago Alderman Edward Burke, who has been one of the mainstays Windy City’s Democratic political machine for decades, has been charged with attempted extortion.

Burke represents a ward on Chicago’s South Side, where former President Barack Obama’s rise to political power began, first as a community organizer and later as a state senator in the 1990s.

A criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court alleges that Burke, who has been an alderman since 1969, “tried to extort the owners of a company that operates dozens of fast-food restaurants in the Chicago area and needed help with permits for remodeling a restaurant in Burke’s 14th Ward on the Southwest Side,” the Chicago Tribune reported.

The complaint further alleges that Burke asked one of the company’s executives to attend a political fundraiser, and the individual felt compelled to give maximum contributions to the candidate in order to satisfy Burke.

The alderman and his wife Anne, a justice on the Illinois Supreme Court, were max contributors themselves to Obama’s 2008 presidential primary campaign

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An account in the Chicago Sun-Times appears to demonstrate Obama and Burke are friends, or at least had a friendly relationship with each other, based on the attention the then-president gave to the city politician at the Beverly Country Club in Chicago in 2012.

“I was waiting on the first hole while he (the president) was finishing up the ninth hole, when he graciously came over and inquired about Anne and Travis (the Burkes’ African-American son),” Burke recounted to the paper.

Breitbart reported Burke, 75, is the longest-serving alderman in Chicago.

“Anyone aspiring to a position of power in the Cook County Democrat Party must have Burke’s approval,” according to the news outlet. “He’s the Machine’s gatekeeper.”

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The Tribune reported that Burke controls millions of dollars in campaign funds.

When federal agents raided Burke’s city hall and ward offices in late November, some in the media speculated whether the move could have something to do with private legal work the alderman did for President Donald Trump.

Burke’s law firm, Klafter & Burke, represented Trump’s companies repeatedly over a 12-year period, seeking to reduce the taxes owed on properties, including Trump International Hotel & Tower in Chicago.

The attorney stopped working for the Trump Organization after the New York businessman became president.

The Times reported following the raids, based on a source, that they were in response to new allegations, meaning “for now, the investigation isn’t focused on Burke’s property-tax-appeal work for President Donald Trump.”

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“It doesn’t mean, however, that those dots won’t be connected later,” the paper added.

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Randy DeSoto has written more than 2,000 articles for The Western Journal since he joined the company in 2015. He is a graduate of West Point and Regent University School of Law. He is the author of the book "We Hold These Truths" and screenwriter of the political documentary "I Want Your Money."
Randy DeSoto is the senior staff writer for The Western Journal. He wrote and was the assistant producer of the documentary film "I Want Your Money" about the perils of Big Government, comparing the presidencies of Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama. Randy is the author of the book "We Hold These Truths," which addresses how leaders have appealed to beliefs found in the Declaration of Independence at defining moments in our nation's history. He has been published in several political sites and newspapers.

Randy graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point with a BS in political science and Regent University School of Law with a juris doctorate.
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Graduated dean's list from West Point
United States Military Academy at West Point, Regent University School of Law
Books Written
We Hold These Truths
Professional Memberships
Virginia and Pennsylvania state bars
Phoenix, Arizona
Languages Spoken
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Entertainment, Faith