Chicago, IL

Chicago's Deputy Mayor Investigated by Chicago Board of Elections for Missing $165k in Election Funds

Natalie Frank, Ph.D.

Ald. Walter Burnett claims nothing improper about how he spent $165k in campaign funds which can't be accounted for
Chicago Deputy Mayor Ald. Walter BurnettPhoto byKurman Communications/Wikimedia Commons [CC BY 2.0]

Chicago's newly appointed deputy mayor, Alderman Walter Burnett of Chicago's 27th Ward is facing an investigation regarding $165,000 in campaign funds that remain unaccounted for. The probe aims to shed light on the whereabouts and usage of these funds, raising concerns about financial transparency and accountability.

The investigation was initiated after Alderman Burnett repeatedly filed amended campaign-finance reports in an attempt to rectify errors. Despite his efforts to address the issue, questions linger regarding the nature of the missing funds and their ultimate destination. According to a state elections In an official communication to the deputy mayor, a state elections official said, “You’re telling us you deposited the money back into the campaign fund, and we see no such thing.”

Alderman Burnett, who represents the 27th Ward, has assured the public that there is no malicious intent behind the unaccounted campaign funds. In an interview, he emphasized that his accountant and legal team are actively working to reconcile the missing funds, expressing confidence that the matter will be resolved.

In November, Burnett informed the state elections board that he had placed $375,000 of campaign contributions into investment accounts with different banks over a period of two decades. Candidates are obligated to provide regular updates on the usage of campaign funds. However, Burnett failed to include $300,000 of that amount in his campaign-finance reports.

Despite filing amended campaign-finance reports for a six-year period, Burnett has yet to explain the whereabouts of $165,000 of the unaccounted for funds. In response to questions about why it is so difficult for him to explain where the money went, Burnett said, “I don’t want to comment on that.”

State officials say they don't have the authority to require Burnett to disclose how he spent the unaccounted for campaign funds or to compel him, or any other candidate running for office in Illinois, to verify the information submitted in campaign finance reports

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