City Hall’s secret emails: What we’ve learned since hack of Lightfoot officials
Tens of thousands of emails detailing the inner workings of City Hall were leaked to the public last month. Here’s the Sun-Times’ latest reporting on the content of those hacked documents.
A massive cache of hacked emails detailing the inner workings of Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s administration was leaked to the public last month – apparently in response to the fatal police shooting of 13-year-old Adam Toledo.
The emails were posted online on April 19 by Distributed Denial of Secrets, a nonprofit whistleblower group similar to WikiLeaks that’s facilitated other recent high-profile data dumps.
The hacked files, which also include roughly 50,000 documents and nearly 750,000 images, were swiped during recent data breaches targeting Accellion, a firewall vendor whose dated file-sharing network was compromised by organized cybercriminals.
The email accounts contain header information to indicate they belong to Susan Lee, the former deputy mayor of public safety; Patrick Mullane, Lightfoot’s former deputy press secretary; Tamika Puckett, the city’s former chief risk officer; and Anjali Julka, the former Freedom of Information Act officer for the mayor’s office
Responding to inquiries about the hack, a spokeswoman for the city’s Law Department, said that there’s “no evidence” to suggest the files are genuine. She added that reporting on them “makes all of us less safe and encourages future bad actors to use nefarious means to gain information.”
Follow the Sun-Times’ latest reporting on the contents found in the hacked emails and public officials’ responses below.
May 07, 2021 05:18 PM
The mayor worried that detainees released from the jail could drive crime or spikes in COVID cases and sought to connect detainees with city services.
Lightfoot’s office was blindsided by CPD’s use of controversial facial recognition software — then raised serious concernsHacked emails show the city only learned police were using technology developed by Clearview AI — which faces multiple suits claiming it violated the state’s biometrics privacy act — until after inquiries last year by the Sun-Times.
Unrest after George Floyd’s killing left Lightfoot administration struggling: ‘We are so behind [it’s] ridiculous’Leaked emails offer a window into a critical period of the mayor’s first term in office.
66% of Chicago police chases in 2019 ended in crashes — 8 of them fatal — yet pursuit policy went unchanged until late 2020, emails showThe policy was finally changed after officers disregarded an order to stop a chase and killed Guadalupe Francisco-Martinez, a mother of six on her way home from work.
In an email last summer, a police official reported that its counter-terrorism bureau started a pilot drone program using forfeiture proceeds — money and other assets seized in connection to criminal investigations.
The mayor on Monday questioned the legitimacy of the leaked emails that are now getting widespread attention and urged the public to be “very, very cautious” before drawing any conclusions.
As Lightfoot ponders a fix, city’s handling of fatal shootings by cops continues to violate state lawThe Civilian Office of Police Accountability is violating state law by conducting investigations into whether Chicago cops should be criminally prosecuted for fatal shootings, according to documents and sources. Mayor Lori Lightfoot has been sitting on a consultant’s recommendations to fix the problem since July, records show.
The emails were posted online on April 19 by Distributed Denial of Secrets, a nonprofit whistleblower group similar to WikiLeaks, and include tens of thousands of emails from city officials.