Chicago Zoning Scandal Hits U.S. Congress
A federal investigation of Illinois politicians that have received millions in campaign donations from wealthy developers seeking lucrative deals in Chicago has led to the probe of an eight-term Democrat congressman up for reelection next week.
Authorities began investigating when a major newspaper published a multiple-part series (“Neighborhoods for Sale”) documenting Chicago’s suspicious zoning changes over the last decade. The series indicates that the zoning modifications were influenced by the real estate industry’s hefty donations to public officials.
City aldermen have been named in the stories as well as Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, prominent state lawmakers and now a veteran federal legislator, Democrat Luis Gutierrez, who represents Illinois’ fourth district in the U.S. House.
A story published today reveals that Gutierrez personally lobbied Mayor Daley to back a controversial multimillion-dollar development for a campaign donor who had just given the congressman a $200,000 “loan.”
Gutierrez even wrote the mayor a letter on his official U.S. House stationery to advocate for his financial supporter. The congressman has a close relationship with several developers and has entered into real estate deals with them. The developers have helped finance his campaigns.
Not surprisingly, Gutierrez denies any wrongdoing and maintains that there is no connection between benefiting financially and strongly supporting the housing and commercial business development that is not even in his district.