City issues seizure notices for mayor’s motorcade after failing to pay red light, speed cam tickets

The city of Chicago has issued seizure orders for two SUVs that shuttle Mayor Brandon Johnson around town because no one has paid a growing pile of speeding and red light camera tickets issued to the vehicles.

Four SUVs dedicated to Johnson have collected 21 citations and one warning since he became mayor seven months ago. As of Wednesday night, the unpaid fines and penalties total $2,130.

Johnson’s motorcade has picked up tickets at a dizzying pace. In fact, his SUVs have been tagged speeding and running red lights more often in seven months than Rahm Emanuel, Lori Lightfoot, and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle received within four-year terms.

Johnson’s SUVS owed the city $855 for eleven moving violations when we first reported on his motorcade’s driving habits on October 18. The debt ballooned to $1,725 by November 30. Now, the debt is $2,130…and growing.

A member of Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson’s security detail walks toward one of his motorcade SUVs outside City Hall in October 2023. | CWBChicago

Since November 30, the city has issued seizure orders against two of the four mayoral SUVs. Three seizure orders have been issued for one of the SUVs for non-payment of three speed camera tickets. The city issued three more seizure notices against another car for failing to pay two speeding tickets and a red light violation.

Only two of the 21 tickets Johnson’s cars have received since he was sworn in have been paid.

We’ve repeatedly asked the mayor’s office about his motorcade’s speeding and red light running habits. We’ve asked who’s supposed to pay the bills and when they will pay up. We’ve asked why the mayor needs to fly through school and park zones at more than 50 mph.

They have not replied.

In a piece of old business, one ticket issued to the SUVs during former Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s term remains unpaid. With penalties added, that bill has swelled to $244. We’re not including that in the fines and penalties accrued by Johnson. The unpaid ticket issued to Lightfoot has not resulted in a seizure order.

When Rahm Emanuel’s red light and speeding tickets were revealed during his administration, the former Obama chief of staff paid the fines out of his own pocket. He later transferred responsibility for payment to whichever Chicago police officer was driving at the time of the violation. Needless to say, the number of citations issued to Emanuel’s cars dropped dramatically after his drivers became responsible for the bills.

Preckwinkle also promised that tickets issued to her county-operated SUVs would be paid after we raised the issue with her. We later discovered that her tickets were subsequently protested and frequently dismissed.

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About Tim Hecke 372 Articles
Tim Hecke is CWBChicago's managing partner. He started his career at KMOX, the legendary news radio station in St. Louis. From there, he moved on to work at stations in Minneapolis, Chicago, and New York City. Tim went on to build syndicated radio news and content services that served every one of America's 100 largest radio markets. He became CWBChicago's managing partner in 2019. His email address is tim@cwbchicago.com