Chicago Housing Authority CEO Lewis Jordan has resigned after a FOX Chicago News/Better Government Association investigation into his use of city credit cards to pay for expensive meals at Chicago's finest restaurants.
Ground zero for Jordan's credit card spending spree was the Gold Coast. He used his city-provided credit card to pay for numerous meals at Carmine's, Hugo's Frog Bar, Gibson's, and even a mentoring lunch with a Chicago public schools student at the Tavern on Rush.
FOX Chicago News and the BGA also found thousands of dollars in charges for flowers for CHA employees, monthly birthday cakes, holiday gifts for senior staff, a suite at the United Center to boost morale, and nearly $800 to pay for red light camera tickets.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel was not impressed; he cut off city workers' credit cards and pointed out that "the credit cards provided to public entitites are not an extension of your personal credit card."
In his resignation letter to the chairman of the CHA, Jordan said “over the past two weeks questions about the propriety of credit card use have overshadowed the good and important work of CHA. I believe this issue has become an impediment to my ability to steer this $1 billion a year organization through the important work it does for Chicago."
But Jordan also defended himself.
"The charges in question amount to approximately $15,000 over three years, were not used for any personal expenditures, and were consistent with CHA and HUD policies and practices,” he said.
Jordan was also in trouble with Mayor Emanuel for using a team of police officers as his personal drivers.
"This behavior represents a woeful lack of understanding of what public service is all about," said Andy Shaw, President and CEO of the Better Government Association. "What Lewis Jordan did not understand was that his first responsibility was to the residents. Citizens have a right to expect that CHA dollars are used to support and improve the living conditions for the poorest among us, not for wining and dining a select few on the Gold Coast."
CHA Board Chairman James Reynolds seemed to blame the media in a statement about Jordan's resignation.
"Given the scrutiny surrounding the recent media coverage, I fully understand Lewis' desire to move forward to end the attacks regarding his character and ethics," Reynolds said.