County Democrats criticize Gardiner for “misogynist and homophobic” texts

In its harshest rebuke to one of its members, the Cook County Democratic Party rebuked 45th Ward Democratic Committee member Jim Gardiner on Monday and stripped him of his party committee assignments for texts full of “misogynistic, homophobic and obscene language”.

“There are many examples of personal insults and insults, uncontrolled diatribes and verbal abuse accompanied by rude, obnoxious, disgusting, rude and vulgar behavior – in the past two years,” the party said. in a press release.

“These actions – the epitome of incivility – are odious and contemptible, have no place in public discourse and discredit our Party,” the statement continued.

It is not the first time that the party, now led by Cook County Board Chairman Toni Preckwinkle, has removed a party member from office on the committee, but the meteoric public denunciation is highly unusual.

Cook County Board Chairman Toni Preckwinkle in 2019.
Colin Boyle / Sun-Times File

When Preckwinkle robbed Ald. Ed Burke (14th) from his post as chairman of the party’s judicial selection committee in 2019, she also called on him to resign from city council and as a member of the 14th Ward Democratic committee. But his statement says little about Burke himself, beyond rejecting the idea that “corruption and Chicago politics go hand in hand.”

“I won’t let my name hang out in the mud,” Preckwinkle said in his email.

Burke has pleaded not guilty to bribery charges in a 59-page indictment accusing the veteran Southwest Side alderman of racketeering and bribery.

Preckwinkle’s political ties to him plagued her mayoral bid, prompting Preckwinkle to return the $ 116,000 she raised from the alderman in January 2018.

Gardiner is not facing any criminal charges, but the profane, threatening and misogynistic texts he sent prompted denunciations, calls for his resignation and a series of apologies from the alderman himself. same.

Ald.  James M. Gardiner (45th) at the September 14 city council meeting.

Ald. James M. Gardiner (45th) at the September 14 city council meeting.
Anthony Vazquez / Sun-Times file

The slap in the face from County Democrats comes just over a month after Gardiner issued a rare public apology from city council.

Dick Simpson, a former city councilor and professor of political science at the University of Illinois at Chicago, cannot recall a more scathing rebuke against a sitting party member.

“There have been many occasions in the past – [Mayor] Richard J. Daley was famous for his ravings against his opponents, ”said Simpson. “There have been many Democratic figures over the years who have used slurs against opponents, and I don’t remember the Democratic Party censoring anyone for those reasons. I may be forgetting something, but I don’t remember.

The party’s reprimand comes after what it called a “proper investigation” that included media reports, social media posts and public remarks by Gardiner and written responses regarding his conduct.

Gardiner did not respond to a request for comment.

In addition to calls for censorship from his colleagues and demands to resign from his constituents, Gardiner is also facing an investigation by the Chicago Board of Ethics.

The Chicago Tribune reported that the FBI was also investigating his conduct, which was first exposed by The People’s Fabric, an anonymous blog posing as a political watchdog on the Northwest Side.

In the texts published by this blog, Gardiner refers to Ald. Tom Tunney (44th), city council’s first openly gay alderman, as “b —-” and said “f — him”.

In another text, Gardiner refers to Anne Emerson, Ald’s chief of staff. Scott Waguespack (32nd) as “b —-” of this alderman.

Ald.  Tom Tunney (44th) chats with Ald.  Jim Gardiner (45th) at a Chicago city council meeting in April.

Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) chats with Ald. Jim Gardiner (45th) at a Chicago city council meeting in April.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia / Sun-Times File

In another text message, he potentially spoke of denying a voter service and said, “f — that c —.” This voter donated to another alderman candidate in 2019, according to The People’s Fabric.

In addition to his public apology, Gardiner met two of the women he denounced in his texts – Emerson and Lightfoot political consultant Joanna Klonsky.

He also apologized to Waguespack and Tunney for the profane and abusive text messages about them or their key associates.

But Gardiner maintained that he “never refused and I never asked or condoned my staff to refuse city services to a resident.”

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