Viagra, Massage Parlors, And An FBI Mole In City Hall | WBEZ
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Ald. Danny Solis And Viagra: 4 Things We Learned About The FBI Probe Into Chicago City Hall

Updated 5:55 p.m.

There’s allegedly Viagra, corruption, powerful Illinois pols, and a request for “a good massage, with a nice ending.”

The Chicago Sun-Times on Tuesday published two bombshell stories about the unfolding corruption case that’s now ensnaring some of the mightiest and longest-serving politicians in the state. That follows revelations last week that retiring Chicago Ald. Danny Solis (25th Ward), who chairs the powerful Zoning Committee, had been wearing a wire for the feds as they built a corruption case against his colleague, Ald. Ed Burke (14th Ward).

Late Tuesday afternoon, the mayor’s office said Solis is resigning his committee chairmanship. Burke, meanwhile, was charged with attempted extortion earlier this month. He says he’s innocent.

But Tuesday’s stories, based on a 2016 affidavit obtained by the paper, show the feds’ interest reaches beyond Solis and Burke. Here are some takeaways.

1. The feds say there’s ‘reasonable cause to believe’ Solis was crooked

Solis has not been charged with any crime, but Chicago politicos have been wondering since last week what could compel him to wear a wire against his onetime City Council ally. Tuesday’s stories offer one possibility: The feds had dirt on Solis.

In the affidavit, an FBI special agent reportedly swears that “‘there is reasonable cause to believe that Solis and others have committed’ bribery, fraud and other potential criminal offenses.” The feds outline several alleged scenarios, according to the Sun-Times.

In one, a Solis political operative asked the owner of Elgin Sweeping Services, a street sweeper manufacturer, for a campaign donation, at a time when the company wanted Solis’ help to get a break on its city water bill.

In another, Solis allegedly agreed to “accept a gratuity” from a construction company as a reward for helping it win approval to build a big hotel and data center near the McCormick Place convention center.

In yet another, Solis allegedly spent a free family weekend at a 180-acre luxury farm owned by a developer, at the same time the alderman was helping him win city approval for real estate projects.

2. Yes, there’s sex stuff

The Sun-Times, in summarizing the affidavit, portrays Solis as “routinely on the prowl for sex, Viagra, campaign contributions and other favors.”

The document reportedly alleges that, in late 2014, the same political operative who hit up the street sweepers for campaign money, Roberto Caldero, also had Solis asking him for “blue medicine,” meaning Viagra.

Solis also allegedly asked Caldero to find him a parlor where he could get “a good massage, with a nice ending,” the newspaper reports.

When Caldero allegedly said he knew a good place that employed Asian women, Solis responded: “Oh good. Good, good, good. I like Asian,” according to the report.

Caldero told the Sun-Times that he did, indeed, end up providing Solis with Viagra and massage parlor visits, “but said he did so out of friendship,” not as part of a quid pro quo.

3. The feds secretly recorded Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan

Perhaps the most shocking new tentacle to grow out of the Solis saga reaches toward the man who is arguably Illinois’ most powerful politician: Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan.

The backstory: In August 2014, a Chinese developer was reportedly seeking Solis’ approval to build a Chinatown hotel in Solis’ ward. In order to get his blessing, Solis allegedly requested that the developer meet with Madigan, who is also a property tax lawyer.

The Sun-Times reports that, according to the affidavit, an unnamed “associate” of the Chinese developer secretly recorded a conversation with Madigan at his downtown law office. In the video and audio recording, Madigan allegedly expresses interest in winning the developer’s property tax appeal business for the unbuilt hotel.

“We’re not interested in a quick killing here. We’re interested in a long-term relationship,” Madigan said, according to the affidavit reported by the Sun-Times.

The developer apparently agreed to hire Madigan’s firm, and Solis wrote a letter of support for the hotel project. But the developer never actually ended up retaining Madigan’s services.

In a statement, Madigan says, “To my knowledge, I am not under investigation by the Office of the U.S. Attorney, and I have not been contacted by the U.S. Attorney relative to Dan Solis.”

4. There are a lot of wiretapped phone conversations we haven’t heard about yet

The 120-page affidavit reportedly shows the feds listened to more than 18,000 conversations on one of Solis’ cell phones “over the course of at least a year.” As chair of the powerful Zoning Committee, which decides what gets built in Chicago, Solis likely spent lots of time talking with big-time city developers and powerbrokers, not to mention other Chicago pols.

Also consider: In the criminal complaint against Burke, the feds revealed they’d been tapping his phone since at least May of 2017. Burke, whose wife is an Illinois Supreme Court justice and who spent decades helping Democratic judges get elected in Cook County, would also be in a position to be calling up some of the most influential people in Illinois.

The big question now is: Who?

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