Ald. James Gardiner spoke on the Chicago City Council floor on Tuesday to apologize to his colleagues. | Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

“I take full responsibility for my offensive words in those messages,” Gardiner said. “Unfortunately those comments do not reflect my values … I want to make it clear that I have never acted on those rants. … It certainly was not my intention to demean anyone.”

Embattled Ald. Jim Gardiner (45th) rose on the City Council floor Tuesday to issue a rare public apology for the embarrassment caused by his profane, profane, threatening and misogynistic text messages.

The rules were suspended to pave the way for Gardiner’s mea culpa in front of an audience that included his wife, Samantha Fields, a former city budget director and holdover from the administration of Rahm Emanuel. Fields also served as Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s director of Legislative and Government Affairs.

“I stand before this body to offer my sincerest apologies for the pain and insult that anyone has endured as a result. I take full responsibility for my offensive words in those messages,” Gardiner said.

“Unfortunately those comments do not reflect my values or the efforts of our team who work to make our ward a better place. And for that I am deeply sorry. I want to make it clear that I have never acted on those rants. However, they should not have been expressed. It certainly was not my intention to demean anyone.”

Gardiner acknowledged the text messages have been “an embarrassment to many and offensive to others.” He also apologized to those referenced in the texts and to his family,” including “my beautiful wife and my gorgeous daughter.”

Fighting for his political life amid demands for his resignation, Gardiner concluded: “I can be better and will strive to prove that through my actions as I continue to serve this great city. Today, I do not speak to you as a politician. I speak to you as a human being. A human being who has sinned.”

Last week, Mayor Lori Lightfoot asked departing Inspector General Joe Ferguson to investigate Gardiner’s text messages.

“Rather than death by a thousand cuts and rumor and innuendo in the media … we can actually get to the bottom of what did happen versus what didn’t happen,” Lightfoot had said then.

The fact that Gardiner’s wife was one of her top aides just a few months ago didn’t stop the mayor from piling on by honing in on allegations Gardiner has vehemently denied — that the embattled Northwest Side alderman threatened to withhold city services from constituents who dared to oppose him or organize protests against him.

“First and foremost, no one should ever be denied access to city services because of their political opinion, who they may have supported in an election. That’s just not how we do things,” Lightfoot had said.

“I’m the mayor for the entire city. People agree with me. People who don’t agree with me. But we’re never gonna support any effort to deny people access to city services. It’s fundamental.”

Last year, Lightfoot famously warned members of the Chicago City Council’s Black Caucus who dared to vote against her 2021 city budget, “Don’t ask me for s–t for the next three years” when it comes to choosing projects for her $3.7 billion capital plan.

Lightfoot said she talked to Gardiner more than a week ago when his profane and abusive text messages were first exposed by The People’s Fabric, an anonymous blog that bills itself as a political watchdog on the Northwest Side.

At the time, the allegations against Gardiner were primarily focused on what the mayor viewed as the alderman’s “disparaging conduct and comments” about and toward women.

“I was not unsparing in telling him that I thought that the words that were attributed to him were absolutely unacceptable. Some things just absolutely shouldn’t be said,” the mayor said.

“I know that, at times, people get frustrated. I get frustrated. Sometimes, you put things in writing that you regret. But a consistent pattern of using what I would say is misogynistic language about women [is] totally, utterly unacceptable.”

Since then, more text messages have surfaced about Gardiner’s threats to get even with constituents with whom he disagrees.

And CBS2 Chicago has exposed another batch of text messages in which Gardiner refers to Lightfoot’s political consultant Joanna Klonsky as a “dumb b—-.”

“Under no circumstances should a resident be denied access to city services simply because of their political choice and affiliation. That’s not OK,” the mayor said.

Earlier this month, Gardiner apologized to Finance Committee Chairman Scott Waguespack (32nd) and Zoning Committee Chairman Tom Tunney (44th) for profane and abusive text messages about them or their top aides exposed by The People’s Fabric.

In one exchange, Gardiner refers to Tunney, the City Council’s first openly gay alderman, as a “b—-” and said “f— him.”

In another text, Gardiner refers to Waguespack’s chief of staff, Anne Emerson, as the 32nd Ward alderperson’s “b—-.”

In yet another text message, he potentially talked about withholding services from a constituent and said, “f— that c—.” That constituent donated to another aldermanic candidate in 2019, according to The People’s Fabric.

In an email to the Sun-Times earlier this week, Gardiner maintained he’s “never withheld, nor have I ever instructed or condoned my staff to withhold city services from any resident.”

He again pointed to a statement released Sept. 3, saying he’s sorry for his comments and how “they do not reflect my values.”

“I have reached out to my colleagues and others to express my sincere regrets,” Gardiner’s statement said. “I respect all people and apologize to others I may have offended.”

State Rep. Kelly Cassidy, who doubles as Democratic committeeperson of the 49th Ward, has asked the Cook County Democratic Organization to censure Gardiner.

Read More

Leave a Reply