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Ald. George Cardenas Under FBI Investigation, Ex-Employee Claims

By Chuck Sudo in News on Jun 23, 2014 9:55PM

Ald. George Cardenas (12th)
A lawsuit filed by a former employee of Ald. George Cardenas (12th) claims she was fired without cause last month for answering questions by the FBI about “illegal hiring practices and other illegal operations” in Cardenas’ office. If true, this would be an embarrassing beginning to City Hall’s post-Shakman Decree existence.

Maria Chavez filed the lawsuit last Thursday in Cook County Circuit Court. An 11-year employee of Cardenas’ office, Chavez claimed, among other issues in the lawsuit, her termination was a violation of the Illinois Whistleblower Act. Chavez’s attorney, Steven Laduzinsky, said in the lawsuit two FBI agents met with Chavez at her home May 1 and discussed “the activities and communications of Cardenas” for around two hours. Chavez claims she was fired the next day and has met with FBI agents since.

Cardenas’ office responded with a statement claiming Chavez was “terminated for potentially conspiring with a city contractor who is required to follow strict City of Chicago hiring guidelines under the Shakman Decree and the City hiring plan.

“Furthermore, the Alderman and his office has cooperated fully with the pending investigation by the Inspector General into Ms. Chavez and the city contractors' actions. Allegations by this former employee are without merit,” the statement continued.

Chavez’s lawsuit contends the city Inspector General’s office received complaints the alderman was using staff and city property to gather signatures for his 2012 re-election campaign. Cardenas told the Sun-Times he has never been contacted by the FBI.