Divide and conquer is an old political strategy. It’s worked for everyone from Genghis Khan to Debra Silverstein. It backfires occasionally–Ram Villivalam vs. Ira Silverstein is a recent example. The way I heard it, Ram was recruited by Ira to split the Indian vote should Ira not be able to successfully challenge Zehra Quadri’s senatorial nominating petition signatures. While that process was in motion, Ram realized he could win by appealing to the South Asian voters in the suburbs and shamelessly using the current Me, Too moment to smear Ira mercilessly for a flirtation that was more laughable than menacing. As a result, Ira lost his election.
Now comes Majid Mustafa, the latest 50th Ward candidate backed by Indian business and political interests—and possibly the Silversteins—whose sole reason for running is to keep Debra Silverstein in office. Such an outcome works for Indian business and political interests—not to mention the Silversteins. And once again, the target is Zehra Quadri. Get her off the ballot, or split the Asian vote. And guess who wins re-election..
But back to Mustafa. He’s an interesting character, to say the least. A former precinct captain for Berny Stone, he was practicing political dirty tricks while still a dishwasher at his uncle’s kebab restaurant. Berny appointed him a commissioner to our local Special Services Area (SSA) #43 (Devon Avenue), a secretive, unelected taxing body accountable solely to the alderman, who chooses its members..
Our dishwasher-commissioner, in his capacity as a Stone precinct captain and political operative, became embroiled in the 2007 post-election scandal that contributed to Stone’s defeat in 2011. Disgruntled candidate Salman Aftab complained to the Chicago Board of Elections (CBOE) that Stone campaign workers were filling out absentee ballots for immigrant voters. An investigation led to the arrests of two men, Stone’s Ward Superintendent, Anesh Eapen, and campaign volunteer Armando Ramos.
Full disclosure: Armando Ramos is my nephew.
In Spring 2008, Mustafa was hired by the City as Stone’s legislative aide at a salary of $3,499 per month. It was understood that Mustafa now could not be questioned about allegations of vote fraud in the 2007 campaign, City Council employees not being subject to investigation by the Inspector General. Unfortunately for Mustafa, it turned out he was subject to the State’s Attorney’s vote fraud investigation.
At the Eapen-Ramos trial, the Cook County State’s Investigator who interviewed Mustafa testified that Mustafa had initially denied filling out absentee ballots but changed his testimony when shown ballots with his handwriting on them. He then admitted that he also completed “missing information” on ballots he took to his own home, and stamped and mailed absentee ballots in violation of state election law. Mustafa changed his testimony between his investigator interview and his court appearance. He denied knowing his activities were illegal, and blamed poor election training for his behavior.
He could and should have been charged with perjury, but prosecutors did not follow up on these inconsistencies.
Eapen and Ramos were subsequently convicted. Their charges were reduced to misdemeanors and, while they were on trial, the law under which they were tried was invalidated by the City Council. Each served a few months in Cook County Jail.
Mustafa left his City job and became assistant manager of his uncle’s kebab restaurant.
In early 2013, Mustafa decided to become a Chicago police officer. During his probationary period, he injured his thumb while undergoing firearms training. In all, Mustafa failed three times to pass the test requiring him to fire a gun with both hands and was terminated from his probationary police officer position.
In August of 2013, Mustafa sued the City, then-Police Superintendent Gerry McCarthy, and his instructor in federal court, alleging breach of contract and violation of his civil rights. Mustafa’s suit claimed that he had an “implied contract” with the City during his probationary period, and that his thumb was not only dislocated but further injured during subsequent training he was ordered to undergo after he had been medically certified to return to work.
Mustfa claimed civil rights violations in that the City violated his due-process rights (requiring him to continue training while he maintained his thumb needed more time to heal) and that his civil rights were violated because of “…insulting and disparaging name-calling, including being referred to as ‘little Paki bomber’ and “the alderman’s kid.’” He also sued for compensation and reinstatement to his job as a probationary police officer.
His suit was dismissed in December 2013 except for the claim that the City was required to protect his “bodily integrity”—i.e., not further injure his thumb—but he did not refile his claim within the allotted timeframe. Case closed.
One month after filing his lawsuit, in September 2013, Mustafa reported a bizarre incident in which a burglar broke into his uncle’s restaurant through the locked back door after slipping through the burglar gate and stole 384 pounds of meat marinating in a basement cooler. Nothing else of value was stolen despite the more than two hours the thief spent on the premises, including time out for a bicycle ride and the loss of part of his prize, dropped in the alley as he tried to load it onto his bicycle. The thief eventually loaded what was left of the meat into a shopping cart and made his getaway. The restaurant’s estimated loss was more than $800. The thief was not caught. View the video here.
So, potential aldermanic candidate Majid Mustafa has admitted to committing vote fraud, escaped being held accountable for perjury, reported an exceedingly strange robbery, and sued the City (i.e., the taxpayers) because his thumb was injured during preliminary on-the-job training and people allegedly called him names.
Majid Mustafa advanced from dishwasher to SSA Commissioner to precinct captain to aldermanic legislative aide to probationary police officer to restaurant manager—every step achieved by relying on political connections and chicanery or family ties.
Would you vote for this man?