20100321 Gutierrez by Peter Holderness CROP
Rep. Luis Gutiƒ©rrez, D-Ill., has been making a national name for himself as a crusader for undocumented immigrants. But news reports back home could form an impression that Gutiƒ©rrez is just another Chicago politician -- a guy who makes questionable moves for his family and campaign treasury as he speaks for the downtrodden.
The national attention on Gutiƒ©rrez tends to focus on his immigration work. In the last few days alone, CBS News's Face the Nation
gave the congressman a platform to condemn Arizona's crackdown on residents who lack authorization to be in the United States, the New York Times
was among at least a dozen national outlets that covered Gutiƒ©rrez's arrest Saturday in front of the White House, and Congressional Quarterly
published the latest in a string of favorable profiles of the congressman.
Here in Chicago, Gutiƒ©rrez's coverage is less flattering. Three critical stories appear in today's Chicago Sun-Times. First, the newspaper reveals a real-estate deal in which a Gutiƒ©rrez political protƒ©gƒ©e enabled the congressman's daughter to flip an "affordable" condominium
for a handsome profit. A second story, based on records kept by former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, suggests that Gutiƒ©rrez helped the daughter get a state job
. A third story points out that Gutiƒ©rrez no longer lives in his congressional district
. In all three, Gutiƒ©rrez denies wrongdoing.
The Sun-Times barrage follows extensive Chicago Tribune coverage of Gutiƒ©rrez's ties to Calvin Boender
, a businessman convicted in March of bribing a Chicago alderman. After Boender lent $200,000 to Gutiƒ©rrez, the congressman lobbied Mayor Richard Daley to support Boender's real estate project here on the city's West Side. Prosecutors have not accused Gutiƒ©rrez of wrongdoing.
WBEZ last year revealed that Gutiƒ©rrez, who chairs a House panel on consumer credit, generated tens of thousands of campaign dollars from payday lenders
. After the money flowed in, the congressman disappointed consumer advocates by softening his proposals to regulate the industry. Gutiƒ©rrez denied any connection between the donations and the proposals. In response to our questions, nevertheless, he vowed to quit accepting contributions from payday lenders.