Council watchdog Faisal Khan pleads poverty, seeks back pay

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Faisal Khan, Chicago’s $250-an-hour legislative inspector general, says he faces financial calamity.

He can’t afford to pay his taxes. He’s forced to maintain two homes because his pregnant wife lives out of state and can’t fly. And on top of that, he has massive travel expenses from shuttling back and forth weekly, Khan, a part-time contract employee, said in a Feb. 3 court filing.

So who’s to blame? According to Khan, the city, which he says owes him $75,325 in back pay.

“My lack of agreed compensation has plunged me into an emergency financial predicament from which I cannot arise without payment of back-owed funds,” wrote Khan, who blew through his $354,000 2014 budget last June.

But while Khan pleads poverty, records show he collected $228,707 in city payments in 2014 — well exceeding his former $202,000 a year salary cap.

The records also indicate that since 2012, more than 60 percent of his office budget has gone straight into his pocket. That leaves him with limited resources to conduct investigations and pay his employees.

Khan’s attorney, Clint Krislov, said the city records likely show out-of-pocket expenses related to day-to-day operation of his office — not his true amount of compensation.

“He has tried to keep this office open and tried to do it in a way that put him in a difficult situation,” Krislov said. “He’s probably the only guy working for the city who has done this to keep his office going, keep his staff going.”

This is just the latest monetary dispute between Khan and Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Since he became the City Council’s watchdog in late 2011, his office has been ridiculed as a paper tiger with limited authority.

Last year, Khan lashed out at Chicago aldermen — both verbally and in newspaper op-eds — for tying his hands, ignoring his demands for records and interviews and stripping him of the power to investigate their campaign finances.

Meanwhile, Khan has repeatedly asked for a $1.3 million-a-year appropriation and been rebuffed.

In October, he sued the city, requesting a bigger budget. On Thursday, city legal spokesman John Holden said Khan’s latest court filing, which adds to the previous lawsuit, has “fatal flaws.”

“We will file to have it dismissed,” Holden said.

In the latest wrinkle to the political drama, Khan says in the filing that he was stiffed on his salary.

After burning through his budget last year, Khan says the city promised to cover additional office expenses out of his 2015 budget. So he skipped a salary for six months to keep his office doors open, expecting he would be repaid — but that money never came.

Then City Hall capped his salary at $14,200 a month — a move Khan ripped in the latest court filing.

“The city has . . . caused me great financial peril and burden,” Khan said. “There was never previously a cap on how much I could collect a month.”

The financial constraints have made Khan vulnerable before the mayor and City Council, the court filing states.

They “have been aware of this situation for many months, and appear to be exploiting it for additional leverage,” the court filing states. “Perhaps intending to intimidate him into resigning.”

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