The Chicago Ethics Commission determined Monday that a more thorough investigation should be conducted before making a determination as to whether Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s campaign violated local ethics rules.
The board ordered the inspectors of both city hall and the Chicago Public Schools to investigate the matter, although both offices were already aware of or investigating the matter.
Given how long it takes to investigate and adjudicate on these investigations, it seems unlikely that we will have an answer before the February 28th election. Early voting begins Thursday.
The mayor said earlier this month when it was discovered that her campaign lieutenant had emailed CPS teachers to recruit students for Lightfoot’s re-election effort, offering class credit in return. I was in a tight spot.
Mayor Lightfoot’s challengers denounced the practice as inappropriate and unethical, and launched an attack.
The Chicago Teachers Union, which backed Lightfoot challenger Brandon Johnson, said in a letter it was concerned that members who refused to support Lightfoot’s campaign could face retaliation.
“This is the same mayor who pledged to clean up corruption and make good ethics the anchor of her administration,” the letter said.
The day after the dustup, Lightfoot apologized at a press conference, reiterating that she was unaware that the campaign was contacting CPS teachers, and that the outreach was a mistake by staff. After defending the practice, he eventually vowed to stop it, telling campaign staff that “it must exist between the campaign and official activities, and employees of any city in Chicago or other sister institution, including CPS, Reminded me about a solid wall in contact with employees.Employees…no trespassing. Period.”
The city’s ethics committee met Monday afternoon to consider the issue, but neither the committee’s agenda nor its members made direct mention of the campaign or the mayor. Keep your name and title confidential until a violation is discovered.
However, it was clear that the possible violations were subject to debate, even solicited by Lightfoot’s campaign.
During the meeting, Ethics Committee chairman William Conlon instructed the elected city hall candidates to “immediately and completely erase their e-mail lists and remove government e-mail addresses. and their associates that emails or other forms of solicitation may be considered intimidating if directed at City employees or persons employed by sister city agencies .”
The Ethics Commission is unlikely to make a decision on Monday.The board will only rule on cases of suspected violations of the city’s ethics rules when all the facts are known or when the violation is clear. and can be resolved. Even so, it may take weeks or months for an Ethics Committee decision to be finalized.
If the facts are unclear, the Commission may refer the complaint to the Inspector General. Conlon said he has sent a potential violation of “unauthorized use of city property or private property” to the Wittsburgh and Chicago Public Schools Inspector General’s Office and is already investigating the matter.
Both oversight bodies were tasked with conducting “fact-finding and reporting to the board,” Conron said, adding that the board “requires the Office of the Inspector General to conduct a thorough, proactive, complete and impartial investigation.” I had absolute confidence that I would.”