Ethics Board reaffirms fine against operative who supplied Solis with Viagra, sex acts; goes after company that hired Roberto Caldero

The finding of probable cause could trigger fines against Elgin Sweeping Services for hiring Caldero when he was not a registered lobbyist

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William Conlon, chairman of the Chicago Board of Ethics, says every little bit helps to clean things up at a time when a burgeoning federal corruption scandal has spread from Chicago and the south suburbs to Springfield.

Sun-Times Media

The Chicago Board of Ethics on Tuesday reaffirmed its $25,000 fine against the political operative who supplied FBI mole Danny Solis with Viagra and sex acts and moved to hold Elgin Sweeping Services responsible for hiring Roberto Caldero.

The finding of probable cause will require Elgin to explain why it hired Caldero to promote the company’s interests at City Hall when he was not a registered lobbyist.

Caldero has already been slapped with a $25,000 fine that was reaffirmed Tuesday after the Ethics board rejected his appeal. Elgin Sweeping faces a lesser fine, ranging from $500 to $2,000.

The Ethics Board had recommended dramatically higher fines, but the City Council has not yet considered those recommendations.

“Companies can’t just hire any Tom, Dick or Harry to do lobbying and not ask if that person is registered,” Ethics Board Chairman William Conlon said Tuesday.

The Sun-Times reported in January that the federal affidavit accuses Caldero of plying Solis with Viagra and arranging for the then-chairman of the City Council’s Zoning Committee to visit massage parlors, where he was allegedly serviced by a prostitute.

Caldero was further accused of soliciting campaign donations from the Cacciatore family, which, among other businesses, owns Elgin Sweeping Services, a major street-sweeping company.

At the time, Caldero was representing Elgin Sweeping in its efforts to obtain relief from a change in the city’s water billing practices that investigators indicated could have cost the company more than $1 million. Elgin Sweeping had a city contract to provide street sweeping services and at the time relied on filling its equipment at city fire hydrants.

During several wiretapped conversations, Solis and Caldero made plans to exchange Viagra or visit massage parlors while also discussing how the alderman might help Elgin Sweeping reduce its water bill.

In late 2014, Solis allegedly placed a series of calls and texts to Caldero asking if he had any of that “blue medicine,” meaning Viagra, according to the feds.

At one point, Caldero explained the Affordable Care Act had made it more difficult to get Viagra and that the price had climbed to $400 for 10 pills, which surprised the alderman.

In July 2015, Solis called Caldero with another request.

“I want to get a good massage, with a nice ending. Do you know any good places?” the alderman said.

When Caldero promised to arrange the liaison, Solis asked, “What kind of women do they got there?”

“Asian,” Caldero said.

“Oh good. Good, good, good. I like Asian,” Solis said.

Also during Tuesday’s meeting, the Ethics Board:

• Denied a request from Ald. Howard Brookins (21st) to reconsider an earlier ruling that prohibits Brookins and other aldermen who practice criminal law on the side from getting involved in cases involving Chicago Police officers.

• Issued a finding of probable cause against a former Department of Aviation employee accused of violating the revolving door provision of the ethics ordinance.

• Issued a cause findings against an alderman identified by sources as indicted Ald. Edward Burke (14th). In one case, Burke is accused of failing to recuse himself and explaining why from a matter involving a client of his law firm.

The alleged violation occurred last year — before Burke resigned from the law firm of Klafter & Burke, which specializes in property tax appeals.

The flurry of Ethics Board actions are a drop in the bucket against the backdrop of a blockbuster corruption scandal that has spread from Chicago to the south suburbs and appears to be targeting Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago).

But, every little bit helps, Conlon said.

“We do not wait for things to come to us over the transom. We go out and look for things. We do not stick our heads in the ground,” the chairman said.

“The Board of Ethics is committed to aggressively contributing to an improved ethical environment at a time when it continues to be needed and at a time when the mayor is leading that effort from her office.”

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