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Earlier this week, a member of the city council asked the new inspector general to launch a probe.
“It raises questions and raises questions that warrant evaluation and inquiry,” Ferguson said.
Former Chicago Inspector General Joe Ferguson weighed in on the cloud hanging over City Clerk Anna Valencia for emails suggesting she may have tried to open doors for business opportunities in New Orleans and elsewhere for Ignite Cities, a consulting firm where her husband, Reyahd Kazmi, is a managing director.
“In this town, where there’s smoke, people are quick to say there’s fire,” Ferguson said. “Right now, we have an appearance issue. That’s not necessarily smoke, and it’s certainly not necessarily fire.”
Valencia has denied any wrongdoing, despite questions raised by numerous emails, and now a subpoena from the New Orleans City Council to the mayor there seeking “all documents and communications with George Burciaga, Anna Valencia, and Reyahd Kazmi.”
“I have nothing to do with any of my husband’s business dealings whatsoever,” Valencia said Wednesday.
Valencia is running for Secretary of State and has been endorsed by Jesse White, who is retiring.
“So she’s in a tough space and in a political space, you know, the greatest inoculation would be to publicly say, ‘I’ve reached out to the IG and I’ve asked for an opportunity to sit down and talk with them,'” Ferguson said. “But there isn’t sufficient information and there will not be sufficient information developed in the time before the election for people to draw hard conclusions one way or the other.”
Ferguson said Chicago is way behind the best practices of places like California, where public officials have to disclose all of the business relationships of their spouses.
“The likelihood that we would be in this exact situation would be vastly diminished if we had full disclosure laws,” Ferguson said.
While Ferguson said it’s understandable Valencia’s situation would be politicized in this election season, he said the facts at the moment aren’t conclusive of any wrongdoing.
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