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Former Employee Lashes Out at Ald. Joe Moore on Ethics: 'Joe's Lying'

By Benjamin Woodard | August 5, 2013 9:06am
 Ald. Joe Moore (49th) said he did "nothing wrong."
Ald. Joe Moore (49th) said he did "nothing wrong."
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DNAinfo/Ted Cox

ROGERS PARK — As Ald. Joe Moore tried to "set the record straight" about alleged ethics violations, the former aide he's been accused of paying "hush money" said the alderman's response had tarnished her reputation.

Moore (49th) issued a 2,500-word statement to constituents Friday, 10 days after Legislative Inspector General Faisal Khan asked the alderman to repay $22,206 in city payments made to former employees.

One of those aides, Anne Sullivan, said she was paid 3½ months of wages — $8,709 — to keep quiet about political work being done inside Moore's 49th Ward service office in 2009.

Now, Moore, although conceding at least some of the allegations are true, is firing back.

"I have done nothing wrong, and have always done my best to serve the 49th Ward and City of Chicago ethically, transparently and responsibly," Moore said in the statement.

The 22-year veteran alderman had said Sullivan was a "disgruntled former employee" and the severance payments to both her and his former chief of staff, Kevin Cosgrove, were made to help them transition to new jobs.

Sullivan says political work was commonplace in the taxpayer-funded ward office.

"Joe’s lying," Sullivan said when reached by phone. "Joe’s been lying all along."

She said she was "disturbed" by the alderman's lengthy response, in which he referred to Sullivan as unemployed, disgruntled and disliked by her colleagues at the time.

She said the assertions would make it "impossible" for her to find another job in Chicago.

"I just wanted it out in the open," she said. "And it’s out there — I’m satisfied."

Moore conceded that some political work had been done in the ward office after an intern came forward and corroborated Sullivan's claims.

Moore said the unpaid intern placed labels on post cards advertising a coffee meet-and-greet for Toni Preckwinkle, who had just launched her campaign for Cook County Board president.

Sullivan said Moore gave her two options: either go quietly, with severance pay, or be fired without the money.

"It is completely ludicrous to suggest that I would put my reputation and career at risk to cover up such a minor infraction," Moore said in the statement.

Moore said he had been interviewed by two FBI agents in May 2012, but that he had been assured he wasn't a "target of any federal investigation."

Moore has also fired back at the city investigator for not interviewing him before publishing the report.

Although the report doesn't cite any specific laws that Moore had broken, Khan's assistant said the severance payments violated the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Moore's attorney, Matt Piers, said the act didn't apply.

"I can find no reason why what Joe did was improper," he said. "There’s also no law that we can find anywhere in the city code that addresses the question of whether the alderman can pay severance upon termination of an employee."

Piers also claimed Khan had no right under city law to even investigate because approval of the investigation wasn't cleared by the city's Board of Ethics.

"He didn't even try to do this correctly," Piers said. "... This thing stinks."