This story was updated on Sunday, January 13.
Just a couple years ago, Susana Mendoza — the state comptroller and Chicago mayoral candidate — said her close bond with Anne Burke was virtually unbreakable.
Burke is a state Supreme Court justice and wife of embattled Ald. Ed Burke (14th Ward). And in December 2016, Anne Burke gave Mendoza the oath of office for a high-profile post for the third time.
“I’ve told her that, no matter what I run for, she’s the one and only who could ever swear me in,” Mendoza said of Anne Burke in that inaugural speech, according to a video recording of the event. “It would just not be special without you. So thank you for being here and and being a part of my life as well. Thank you, Anne.”
Despite Mendoza’s promise that she could have it no other way, WBEZ has learned Anne Burke will not be swearing Mendoza in for her new term as comptroller at Monday’s inaugural festivities in Springfield.
Mendoza spokesman Abdon Pallasch said Cook County Circuit Court Judge Rossana Fernandez will do the honors instead. Pallasch said Fernandez is a “longtime friend” of Mendoza.
And state Supreme Court spokesman Christopher Bonjean told WBEZ that he spoke with Anne Burke, and she said Mendoza had invited her to swear her in again — then withdrew that request recently.
Bonjean said he did not know when exactly the invitation was withdrawn or why.
But Ed Burke was charged in federal court here on Jan. 3 with one count of attempted extortion. Prosecutors allege that he tried to shake down a company that owns a Burger King franchise in his ward to hire his private law firm, which helps property owners appeal their taxes.
For decades, Ed Burke’s law firm has represented a long list of clients that do business with the city. That has forced him to recuse himself from voting on 464 measures before the City Council in the last eight years, WBEZ and the Better Government Association reported last month.
Ed Burke denied wrongdoing and promised to seek another term as alderman of his Southwest Side ward, which he has represented for a record 50 years. But he stepped down as chairman of the Council’s Finance Committee. And candidates with ties to him have scurried to distance themselves.
Anne Burke has been on the state’s high court since 2006 and won a new, 10-year term from voters last year.
Mendoza also won another term as comptroller in November, but promptly announced that she was running for mayor in the election next month.
In a statement released by her office, Mendoza did not address why Anne Burke would not swear her in this time. "I have deep admiration for Anne Burke, but I think it’s best to respect her privacy at this time," Mendoza is quoted as saying.
In her inaugural speech in 2016, Mendoza noted that Anne Burke swore her in two other times, when she had won terms as Chicago’s city clerk in 2011 and 2015.
“I want to start by recognizing Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke,” Mendoza said. “She has been such an amazing female role model in my life … You come across special people throughout the course of your lifetime, and she’s clearly one of them.”
Dan Mihalopoulos is an investigative reporter for WBEZ. Follow him at @dmihalopoulos.