Chicago's ethics IG going out of business

The legislative inspector general for the city of Chicago who oversees the ethics of city government officials - including the mayor and alderman - is closing shop today with "more than a few" open investigations into violations by politicians.

The city council refused to continue funding the office, after the IG, Faisal Khan, let several aldermen know they were under investigation for corruption. 

In truth, Faisal's office was toothless. He reported to the very people he was overseeing, giving him zero independence.

But if the city crooks thought that by closing the office the investigations would go away, they would be mitaken. The FBI carted off dozens of boxes of evidence gathered by the IG so that the investigations could continue.


“We received a subpoena of the FBI to take custody of our files and our computers with the understanding [that] we are working with them on a number of investigations,” Khan told POLITICO on Sunday. “In order to protect the integrity of these cases, we had to take the extraordinary step to make sure they don’t end up in the wrong hands.”

Khan said some of the officials he investigated were “devoid of ethical morals and values.”

On the eve of his departure, Khan spoke exclusively to POLITICO about his disbelief both with the mayor’s office and with the City Council over their resistance to oversight. 

“Thirty aldermen over 40 years have gone to jail — this is the place where it’s most needed,” he said.  “We are the third biggest metropolis in the country. I would describe to you that the oversight in Chicago is comparable to the Wild West — anything goes.”

Khan said his office was working on “more than a handful” of confidential investigations with various federal entities.

“I can’t comment on what was turned over to the FBI,” Khan said. “I can say when a prosecutor or law enforcement agency issues a subpoena, it comes with a number of requirements to show how they’re relevant to their work.”

The FBI deployed a large cargo van and a sedan and several FBI agents to the IG’s office at 740 N. Segwick about 3:30 p.m. Friday and hauled off most significant items in the office, separate sources tell POLITICO.

Chicago FBI spokeswoman Joan Hyde had no comment.

Today marks Khan’s final day as inspector general and he said his eight staff members have also been terminated after a four-year run where the office repeatedly clashed with the people they were charged with investigating. On his way out, Khan harshly criticized Mayor Rahm Emanuel and a fair number of aldermen.

“I was incredibly disappointed in the mayor," he said. "I wanted the mayor to lead on these issues, to resolve these conflicts. The fundamental flaw was we were reporting to the people we oversee. I notified half of the City Council, if not more, they were under investigation — now imagine if I had to go back to those same people and ask for funding. Despite our appeals to the mayor’s office we got zero response. Zero support. As a citizen of Chicago I wanted the mayor to lead and fix this problem. Here we were being met with radio silence from City Council or the mayor’s office.”

One powerful alderman called Khan a "bozo" and led the charge to close his office:

“I will be honest with you — I could never have envisioned a city like Chicago being so devoid of ethical morals and values when it came to our elected officials,” Khan said.

He obviously wasn't born in Chicago and didn't spend much time there.

And so, the machine rolls over another would be reformer. But Khan's work wasn't all in vain. Politico reports there are 3 full blown federal investigations into aldermen corruption. But what we won't hear about are the dozens of ethical - non criminal - violations uncovered by Khan's office that will now disappear down the rabbit hole never to be heard of again.

That, too, is the Chicago Way.

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