Emanuel aide resigns over ethics violations
Rahm Emanuel talks with reporters while having lunch at Chicago's Home of Chicken and Waffles restaurant during a campaign stop February 21, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois.
February 26th, 2011
12:48 PM ET
3 years ago

Emanuel aide resigns over ethics violations

(CNN) - A co-chair of Chicago mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel's transition team resigned from her new post Friday after it was revealed that she left her high-level state job last summer over ethics violations, CNN confirmed Saturday.

Judy Erwin previously served as the executive director of the Illinois Board of Higher Education and served on then-candidate Barack Obama's Education Policy Committee during his 2008 presidential campaign. On Thursday, she was named to Emanuel's transition team and according to a news release, Erwin was also recently hired as managing director for ASGK Public Strategies, the communication management firm founded by former Obama senior adviser David Axelrod.

Read the full decision here.

But a recent decision by the state Executive Ethics Commission says Erwin used her state e-mail account and phone to campaign for Obama, engaging in campaign fundraising activity and using staff resources to help plan her trip to the 2008 Democratic National Convention. The filing states that Erwin stepped down from her position at the Board of Education on August 15.

The news of Erwin's resignation from the Emanuel team was first reported Saturday by the Chicago Tribune. Emanuel spokesman Ben LaBolt confirmed the report to CNN.

"We had not seen the decision," LaBolt said. "Judy Erwin is a friend of Rahm's with a wealth of experience and he'll continue to consult her public policy knowledge."

In an interview with the Tribune, Erwin, a former state representative who also co-chaired Emanuel's congressional campaigns, said she was careless while busy at work, but that she cooperated with investigators. She told the Tribune that neither Emanuel nor his campaign were aware of the issue before Friday.

"The bottom line is the mayor-elect has very important work to do and I certainly don't want to have any distractions," Erwin told the Tribune. "I will be stepping aside from the transition. I don't want any distractions at all."

Attempts to reach Erwin on Saturday were unsuccessful.

The ruling states that a $4,000 administrative fine was levied against Erwin.

"The atmosphere for (Board of Education) employees must have been heavily colored by Ms. Erwin's political activity on the job," the ethics board said.

It also found her explanation that she made a campaign contribution to a state representative who was chairman of the higher education appropriations committee "particularly troubling."

"This suggests that she was responding to a real or imagined pay to play incentive within state government," the decision states.

– CNN's Cody Combs contributed to this report


Filed under: Chicago mayoral race • Rahm Emanuel
soundoff (18 Responses)
  1. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    This happens all the time, employers hire someone and after being hired a background check is done that reveals things that aren't on their resume.

    February 26, 2011 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  2. blake

    Someone associated closely with Obama and Emanuel with ethics violations. No, couldn't be :-)

    February 26, 2011 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  3. todd

    Why resign? This is a badge of honor for all Chicago politicians.

    February 26, 2011 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  4. Really

    Just taking the corruption from the White House and adding to the already corrupt politics of Chicago.

    February 26, 2011 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  5. Rosslaw

    What a second, if a Democratic candidate or his/her staff have not: 1. engaged in child-molesting (Mark Foley), defrauded the United States of $600 million in medicaid funds (Fla. Rep. Gov. Rick Scott), or used his parents to launder bribe money to the wife of his former campaign manager whom they shared (Rep. Sen. Engle), this stuff hardly seems worth the ink it took to print the story.

    February 26, 2011 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  6. Ex-Chicago_Public_school_grad

    Hello Chicago..., anyone?? Hello...anyone?? (or are you just so immune and resolved to corruption)??

    February 26, 2011 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  7. Henry Miller

    Politics, Chicago style. Or should I say, politics, Obama style.

    February 26, 2011 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  8. John

    Funny thing is this is reall a non-issue... Only CNN seems to be making a big deal out of it!

    February 26, 2011 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  9. MJ

    Emanuel is a typical Chicago Politician thug. Too bad, Erwin would have fit right in.

    February 26, 2011 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  10. ingrid

    Because she used an employee email address and used state workers to do errands for campaigns, she should get in fined. But that said, this was not a gross abuse of her powers and seems like the kind of mistake that anyone could make. I hope that this does not hurt her career.

    February 26, 2011 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  11. TOTUS 4 PRESIDENT

    Corrupt and illegal Democrat politics for Obama in Chicago?? I'm SHOCKED! Boot them all out in 2012.

    February 26, 2011 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  12. Edward

    Where is the confusion here . . . Chicago politics has been and always will be corrupt, there is nothing new here . . .

    February 26, 2011 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  13. gingerbread

    Just the start of ethics violations! Rahm is as crooked as a donkey's hind leg.

    February 26, 2011 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  14. valwayne

    Ethics violations in Rahm Emanuel's Chicago election campaign. That's hardly news? Its the Chicago Way after all that now holds sway from Chicago into the White House and throughout the nation. If the corruption were to end, now that would be news!!!!

    February 26, 2011 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  15. Tom

    How many days in office? And the wheeling and dealing shenanigans are already coming to light. And the only thing that made it happen was not a sudden discovery of personal ethics. It was the simple fact that she got caught. Otherwise it would still be the same old "rules-are-for-the-other-guy" routine. Such is the culture of sleaze in Illinois politics. Who'll be next?

    February 26, 2011 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  16. Federico Escobedo

    This is BIG news to me: a corrupt Democrat that is caught in the act actually resigns, wow! Hope someone interviews Charlie Rangel and Maxime Waters to get their opinion on this.

    February 26, 2011 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  17. The reality is...

    ...who's surprised?

    February 26, 2011 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  18. George Guadiane - Austerlitz, NY

    The law is the law.
    She violated it and took the consequences.
    Sounds like she behaved like an adult who made a mistake.

    February 26, 2011 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |