Ald. Joe Moore said Wednesday he was disappointed that what he considers an unfair ethics probe into his ward office employment prevented him from getting a good government award from the White House this week.
The veteran 49th Ward alderman already was in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday to accept the award hailing him as a “pioneer for political reform” when the brouhaha about his admission Monday that FBI agents had questioned him reached the White House.
Moore said he helped make the decision to hold off on collecting the honor pending the outcome of a city ethics probe of an accusation that he fired an employee who accused him of doing campaign work in his taxpayer-subsidized ward office.
“I met with White House staff in the morning and together we came to the conclusion that given the timing of this that it’s best not to cast a shadow over this wonderful event and that we would come back another day to accept the award,” Moore said.
A White House official confirmed the decision was made not to go ahead with the award. “We did not honor him as a Champion of Change today and will hold that honor until we know the results of his investigation,” the official said.
Moore said he was “disappointed I have to deal with the probe” and again accused Legislative Inspector General Faisal Khan of not even interviewing him as part of the investigation. “It just simply isn’t fair,” said Moore, who denied the allegations.
In a report released Monday, Khan said Moore fired a woman in 2009 after she complained about political work being done in his ward office in violation of city laws. The report says Moore paid the woman $8,709 — the equivalent of 3 1/2 months' salary — and told her not to speak to anyone about political activities in the ward office.
The report also states that Moore, who has long been considered a progressive voice on the council, fired his chief of staff in 2007 and paid him $13,497 more than he should have based on the number of unused sick days the chief of staff could have accumulated.
Khan indicated that his office forwarded the information to the FBI and the Cook County state's attorney. Moore said he spoke to FBI agents in May and they told him he was not a “target” in their investigation.