Chicago Ald. Jim Gardiner has been removed from all Democratic committee assignments after a Cook County Democratic Party formal inquiry determined his conduct during his two years in City Council has been “boorish, obnoxious, repugnant, rude and vulgar.”
“We make it abundantly clear that we will not condone this type of behavior from one of our members and consequently officially and formally rebuke and disapprove of his actions,” a statement from the party reads.
The party is removing Gardiner from all assignments that he had served on in his post as Democratic Ward Committeeman, which he was elected to in 2020, including assignments to Appellate Court Selection, Candidate Recruitment, and Evaluation and Circuit Court Selection committees. The move falls short of removing Gardiner from his seat as committeeman, which a party spokesperson said he doesn’t believe the party has the legal authority to do.
The party launched a formal inquiry into Gardiner after media reports revealed allegations he retaliated against constituents and text messages showed he has used demeaning and sexist language — including the words b*** and c*** — to describe a fellow alderman, a staff member, a political consultant, and constituents.
Gardiner also allegedly tried to use city funds to pay for campaign work that got him elected to the committeeman seat in the first place.
Gardiner apologized to other aldermen and constituents in September for the language he used, but said he did not act on any of the alleged retaliation schemes.
“I take full responsibility for my offensive words in those messages,” Gardiner said from a prepared statement he read in the middle of a city council meeting. “I want to make it clear that I have never acted on those rants, however they should not have been expressed and it certainly was not my intention to demean anyone.”
The statement from the Cook County Democratic Party says its inquiry looked at media reports, social media postings, and the alderman’s public remarks and written responses. It does not outline whether the party believes the alderman has retaliated against constituents.
The Cook County Democratic Party is not the only body investigating the alderman’s actions — his conduct in office has also caught the attention of the FBI, which has been looking into potential abuses of power by the freshman alderman.
In its statement, the party said there are “numerous examples of personal invectives and insults, uncontrolled rants and verbal abuses” during Gardiner’s two years in office. The alderman has employed “misogynistic, homophobic and obscene language,” according to the party, and has verbally harassed a colleague, a City Council staff member, and constituents.
“These actions — the epitome of incivility — are abhorrent and despicable, have no place in public discourse, and bring disrepute upon our Party.”
Gardiner was not immediately available to comment Monday.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has called on the Office of the Inspector General to investigate the alderman’s behavior. At least one alderman — Ald. Rossana Rodriguez Sanchez, 33rd Ward, has called on him to resign, and has introduced a resolution to explore censuring the alderman. That legislation currently sits idle in the council’s Rule Committee.
Mariah Woelfel covers Chicago city government for WBEZ. Follow @MariahWoelfel.