The City Council’s handpicked inspector general fired back Wednesday against aldermen who claim that he overstepped his limited authority — and embarked on a fishing expedition — with a demand for time sheets for all full- and part-time City Council employees dating back to November 2010. Faisal Khan refused to explain why he requested those records, nor would he say whether aldermen were stonewalling his request for employee records.
The former New York City inspector general said he’s legally prohibited from “talking about any investigation or confirming the existence of any investigation or any open request” for records.
But Khan emphatically denied that he had exceeded his authority. “My job is to uphold the law and enforce the law and act within those confines. Any actions I take as inspector general are within the confines of the law,” Khan said. “Anyone who questions whether I’m acting out of my authority is incorrect. Any actions my office takes are within the scope of my authority. I don’t operate beyond that scope.” The Chicago Sun-Times reported last week that Khan has infuriated the aldermen — who handpicked him to avoid scrutiny by city Inspector General Joe Ferguson — with his request for their personnel records. Over the years, aldermen and committee chairmen have been accused of padding their payrolls with relatives, friends and political allies and of the hiring equivalent of “wife-swapping”: placing spouses and relatives on each other’s payrolls.
Some aldermen are so incensed about the time-sheet request from Khan that they’re talking about clipping the legislative IG’s wings or eliminating his position altogether. Some have confronted Khan and demanded an explanation. Others are going through the motions to comply with his request. Even more have chosen to ignore it and dare Khan to use his subpoena powers if he thinks he has a case to justify a subpoena. On Wednesday, Khan was asked about one alderman’s characterization of him as a “paper tiger who thinks he has teeth.” He said he is not about to be the City Council’s political patsy. “When I took this position, I made it clear that I will do what’s asked of me to make sure I serve the taxpayers by making sure there is no misconduct or corruption in City Council,” he said.
“I’m not concerned” about the resistance, Khan said. “I’m gonna continue to do my job until I’m told I no longer have a job.” A $94,000 amendment to Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s 2013 budget increased Khan’s annual budget to $354,000 a year. That’s $294,000 a year more than originally anticipated. Asked why he needed the extra money, Khan, said, “I asked for a budget so I can hire investigators for this office based on the volume of work. I believe it’s important to have the necessary resources to get the job done.” Khan had 35 investigations by midyear. The ordinance that created the legislative inspector general does not empower Khan to conduct audits. To investigate Chicago aldermen, their staff members and committee employees, Khan needs a signed and sworn complaint and authorization from the city’s Board of Ethics or sign-off from the City Council’s Rules Committee to investigate an anonymous tip.
Please read the original article written by Fran Spielman at the Chicago Sun-Times website.