Chicago Police Officer Kevin W. Graham once picketed with the Fraternal Order of Police carrying a sign that called for ending the residency requirement for Chicago cops: “If the city wants to save money, lift residency requirement,” it read.
In 2013, he and his wife sold their split-level house in Edgebrook on the city’s Northwest Side — and bought a more expensive four-bedroom house in Lincolnshire, about 25 miles outside the city limits in Lake County.
Now, Graham wants to head the city’s largest police union, aiming to unseat FOP President Dean Angelo in a high-profile runoff that ends March 29.
And even though Graham has a suburban address, he insists he’s renting his sister’s Chicago condo, living there in full compliance with police department rules.
Graham also is accusing Angelo of trying to turn the Grahams’ suburban home, purchased for $617,000, into a campaign issue. In a recent post on the blog for Graham’s “Blue Voice” slate of FOP candidates, Graham denies he lives outside the city — a potentially fireable offense — and calls his rival a “rat,” saying Angelo is spreading rumors about where he lives.
The blog post came as Graham was ignoring repeated interview requests from Chicago Sun-Times reporters, who’d found he no longer owns a house in the city and has his name on the water bill for the Lincolnshire house.
Records also show Graham’s wife was registered to vote from the Lincolnshire address and that Graham was registered from a 900-square-foot basement apartment in West Town, a near West Side Chicago neighborhood. Two cars Graham owns aren’t registered to either address, but to the 19th District police station where he works.
After the blog post surfaced, Graham reached out to Sun-Times reporter and columnist Dan Mihalopoulos — not the reporters who’d reached out to Graham initially.
“I have always lived in the city as is required,” Graham told Mihalopoulos on Thursday. “I’ve always followed the rules of the Chicago Police Department.”
When the Grahams sold their Edgebrook home in May 2013, the buyer was retired Chicago Police officer Les Smulevitz, an uncle of Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
Graham told Mihalopoulos he did not know Smulevitz was related to the mayor until after Smulevitz had agreed to buy it. He also said he has occasionally been stationed in front of Emanuel’s house as have “90 percent” of patrol officers in the 19th District, where he has worked for 20 years.
Graham, 54, has voted using his West Town address since 2013, including this past November. His wife has been registered at the Lincolnshire address, records show. The Grahams claim a homestead exemption on the property tax bill for the Lincolnshire house.
He declined to discuss how often he is at the Lincolnshire house. “I’m not divorced. I’m a Catholic,” Graham said. “My wife can live wherever she wants. . . . The situation with my wife and I is nobody’s business.”
Graham said he moved out of basement apartment after it flooded “about a year ago” and now lives in a Lake View condominium owned by his sister. He admits he voted using the West Town address five months ago, but told poll workers he had moved before they gave him a ballot.
Graham said police officers often register their cars and driver’s licenses at their work address to prevent their home addresses from being placed in public databases.
City ordinances require nearly all city employees to live within the city limits, with potential violations investigated by the city Inspector General’s office. That office didn’t return messages seeking comment.
Graham and his allies on the Blue Voice slate have hammered Angelo over the most recent union contract with the city, and for not standing up for the department’s rank-and-file as the CPD has come under unprecedented criticism from activists and the U.S. Department of Justice.
Blue Voice candidates won six slots in the FOP elections, and Graham finished second in the voting for president, forcing the runoff.
Angelo last week denied he was involved in raising questions about Graham’s address.
“This has been the ugliest election in years,” Angelo said. “I don’t know if it’s the social media or what. . . . I’m sure this has been difficult for (Graham’s) family.”
Angelo and his wife live in a split-level house Edison Park, about a block from the city border with Niles, property records show.
Contributing: Fran Spielman