CHICAGO — Ald. Jim Gardiner (45th) apologized to two aldermen Friday after leaked text messages showed him calling one a “b-tch” and insulting the other’s chief of staff.
The text messages from 2019 were verified by Block Club Chicago. They were sent from the alderman’s phone to a person who no longer works for him. The leaked texts were first published by The People’s Fabric, a community site focused on Northwest Side political news.
In one message, Gardiner refers to Ald. Scott Waguespack’s (32nd) chief of staff as “his b-tch.” In another, he refers to Ald. Tom Tunney (44th), the city’s first openly gay alderman, as a “b-tch,” and says, “f-ck him.”
Representatives for Waguespack’s and Tunney’s offices confirmed Friday that Gardiner had reached out to the aldermen to apologize. Details on the conversations were not provided, but Tunney’s office said he accepted the apology.
Anne Emerson, Waguespack’s chief of staff and the subject of one of the offensive texts, said Gardiner reached out to her Friday morning via text and asked her to call him. Instead, she requested an in-person meeting, which has yet to be scheduled.
Gardiner’s office declined to comment on the apologies or the text messages.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office previously told Block Club she urged Gardiner to apologize as soon as possible after seeing the text messages.
“The words attributed to him are personally offensive to the mayor and any woman who reads them,” said Cesar Rodriguez, a spokesperson for the mayor.
Rep. Kelly Cassidy, who serves as 49th Ward Democratic committeeperson, told the Sun-Times she’s contacted Cook County Democratic Party leadership to discuss formally condemning the alderman’s behavior.
“It is something I think we should contemplate,” Cassidy told the paper. “We should look into this and ask our leadership to push back on his behavior.”
Gardiner has a history of reacting harshly to media coverage or social media posts he deems overly critical.
Another text exchange from 2019 — also covered by People’s Fabric — shows Gardiner making similar comments about a constituent on Kenneth Avenue who asked for help preparing for a block party.
Gardiner told his staff not to help the woman because she supported another candidate in the aldermanic campaign, ending the text with, “F-ck her!!!!”
This summer, six residents of the 45th Ward sued the alderman — and the city itself — for allegedly blocking them and deleting critical comments on his Facebook page.
The federal class-action lawsuit alleges Gardiner is violating the First Amendment by deleting comments and blocking people he disagrees with on his government page.
Though not mentioned in the lawsuit, Gardiner also routinely limits attendance to various community meetings, and he has prevented reporters and ward residents from attending multiple meetings since he was elected. Last month, he refused to speak at a news conference in his ward until a Block Club reporter and photographer were removed from the premises.
After Block Club reported Gardiner was accused of stalking his ex-girlfriend when he ran for office in 2018, he has largely refused to speak to Block Club reporters.
Gardiner’s critics have also seen property damage in the past. Pete Czosnyka, a Jefferson Park resident who is an outspoken critic of the alderman and is part of the lawsuit, was targeted in June by a woman who drove over his lawn and told him and his wife to “stop following the alderman.”
Czosnyka told Block Club the leaked text messages match Gardiner’s behavior toward critics and journalists he dislikes.
“He always seemed to be duplicitous presenting one face for the public … but he does this in the background,” Czosnyka said of the texts.
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