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Chicago treasurer was accused of misconduct and ethical violations in letter the city kept secret for years

Chicago treasurer was accused of misconduct and ethical violations in letter the city kept secret for years

Chicago City Treasurer Melissa Conyears-Ervin is in hot water after it was revealed that she allegedly used government workers to plan her daughter's birthday party and to be her personal bodyguard.

This came at a time when she also allegedly pressured public employees to hold events that would benefit her political allies. She has also been accused of mishandling taxpayer resources, according to two top aides who recently released a letter that the city had fought to keep confidential for years.

The Chicago Tribune reported that the four-page letter was written by two employees Conyears-Ervin fired. The letter goes on to allege that the treasurer, who oversees city investments, tried to force BMO Harris to issue a mortgage tied to the building that houses the aldermanic office for Conyears-Ervin's husband.

When the two former employees raised concerns about the situation, Conyears-Ervin allegedly threatened retaliation against them, adding that employees should "not care if her plans are illegal since the only way they could lose their jobs is if she fires them," the letter said.

When Conyears-Ervin dismissed Ashley Evans and Tiffany Harper in 2020, they shared a $100,000 settlement from the city. The settlement was reached only after the letter in question was sent to the city's top attorney and the city's Board of Ethics, per the report.

The Chicago Tribune initially sought to get a copy of the letter but was denied access to it by the administration of Mayor Lori Lightfoot. Lightfoot and Conyears-Ervin were political allies at the time. The news outlet eventually did get a copy of the letter last week after Mayor Brandon Johnson authorized its release.

Conyears-Ervin elected not to address any of the specific allegations made against her in the letter. Instead, she issued a statement last week that said the city had settled the allegations two years ago "in the most cost effective manner for the citizens of Chicago."

“While I am not allowed to discuss the specifics of this settlement, I will make a general statement as I take these matters seriously,” she said. “I have never, nor will I ever abuse or misuse taxpayer dollars and breach the public trust. I treat my responsibility to the citizens and taxpayers with the utmost respect.”

The debacle goes all the way back to November 2020 , when Conyears-Ervin dismissed Harper — her chief of staff at the time — and a few other employees in what she said was a change-up in the office. Harper and Evans alleged their dismissals "violated the Illinois whistleblower act, federal laws, and a city ordinance." They sent the letter to the city, demanding to be reinstated.

The letter said: “The reason given for firing them was a pretext as there was no change in administration (the Treasurer took office over a year prior) and neither Ms. Evans nor Ms. Harper had done anything remotely justifying their termination. They are precisely the sort of employees the City seeks to hire and retain, not terminate.”

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