U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez personally lobbied Mayor Richard Daley to back a controversial multimillion-dollar development for a campaign contributor who had just lent the congressman $200,000 in a real estate deal, a Tribune investigation has found.
Now the congressman's unusual gesture of support is under federal scrutiny as authorities investigate how developers overcame city planners' objections to convert the West Side industrial site into a more profitable residential and commercial development.
Authorities have obtained Gutierrez's July 7, 2004, letter to Daley--written on U.S. House stationery--as part of their grand jury investigation into how zoning works inside City Hall, sources told the Tribune.
Gutierrez said there is no connection between the loan and his letter of support for the Galewood Yards project, which is not in his district. In a written statement, the congressman said his involvement was "extremely minimal" and "entirely appropriate."
He said he has not been contacted by federal authorities.