Chicago alderman facing charges contributed to Franks’ campaign

McHenry County Board Chairman Jack Franks has collected a lot of cash for his campaign war chest over the years.

Some of it came from longtime Chicago Alderman Ed Burke, one of the city’s most powerful and longest-serving City Council members who was charged this week with attempted extortion after a federal probe.

In 2016, Franks received $5,000 from The Burnham Committee – one of Burke’s money drawers – to bolster his run for the County Board, according to campaign finance records. Between 2004 and 2016, Franks also received $4,050 in contributions while running as a state representative candidate.

The friendship between Franks, a Marengo Democrat, and Burke has a rich history.

“We’re family friends, and have been for years,” Franks said. “He’s supported my candidacies because of our friendship.”

Franks’ father, Marengo attorney Herb Franks, served on the Illinois Courts Commission with Burke’s wife, Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke.

“Our sons are friends,” Jack Franks said. “Ed taught both my boys how to water ski.”

Jack Franks also has ties to other high-power Democrats, including Secretary of State Jesse White, House Speaker Michael Madigan and Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart – three men who have lent their names to several of Franks’ fundraisers.

The County Board chairman said he didn’t know what to think after learning of the charges against Burke.

“Justice will play out here,” Jack Franks said. “The wonderful thing about our country is you’re innocent until proven guilty.” 

On Friday morning, Burke resigned from the City Council’s finance committee.

Investigators allege that the 75-year-old tried to shake down a major fast-food restaurant seeking city remodeling permits. Burke has denied any wrongdoing.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel released a statement Friday saying that Burke agreed that “the best course of action is for him to resign” from the finance post he’s held for 30 years.

Investigators allege that Burke conveyed to Burger King executives in 2017 that they’d get the permits only if they signed on as clients at his private property tax law firm.

• The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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