Edward Siskel

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Edward Siskel

Corporation Counsel, City of Chicago (2017- )
Deputy, White House Counsel (2010-2014)
Associate Deputy Attorney General, Department of Justice (2009-2010)
Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois (2005-2009)


On February 22, 2017, Edward Siskel was confirmed as the Corporation Counsel for the City of Chicago. Siskel replaced Stephen R. Patton, who held the position since 2011, when Mayor Rahm Emanuel began his first term in office.

As Corporation Counsel, Siskel heads the Department of Law (DOL), which handles all litigation against the city, provides legal opinions on proposed legislation, and sometimes drafts legislation.

Siskel’s bona fides include time as President Barack Obama’s Deputy White House Counsel and Deputy Assistant, serving in the Office of the Deputy Attorney General at the Department of Justice (DOJ) working on criminal justice policy, as an Assistant United States Attorney, and in private practice at DC law firm WilmerHale. Siskel gained a reputation as a fixer and crisis manager with a “Midwestern sensibility”. He helped the White House make its case in Congressional hearings during the Solyndra and Benghazi investigations.

Siskel joined the Emanuel Administration less than a month after the Department of Justice released its findings of a year-long investigation into the Chicago Police Department, spurred by the shooting of Laquan McDonald and its subsequent video release. The city and the DOJ had signed an agreement in principle, but not a court-enforceable consent decree. Siskel would also be at the helm of rebuilding the new Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA), the new agency formed after the dissolution of the Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA); and for negotiating the city’s contract with the Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 7 (FOP).

Under Patton’s leadership, the Law Department had also been sanctioned by federal judges for intentionally concealing evidence in roughly 1,800 civil cases between 2011 and 2016. An independent review of the department, commissioned by Mayor Emanuel and conducted by former federal prosecutor Dan Webb, however, found no such evidence of misconduct.

As a top lawyer for the Obama Administration for three years, Siskel ran point on several high-profile issues, from handling all Congressional records requests for the investigation into the State Department’s involvement in Benghazi to defending the Affordable Care Act.

In 2012, he was one of the key DOJ officials cited in a scathing Congressional report on “reckless tactics” used in a gun-running operation in Mexico, called “Operation Fast and Furious.” The report, authored by Congressional Republicans Rep. Darrell Issa and Sen. Chuck Grassley, said during his time as Associate Deputy Attorney under Attorney General Eric Holder, Siskel and other top DOJ officials received regular updates on the operation from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF), and “miss[ed] basic red flags.” DOJ officials dismissed the report.

Siskel has strong Chicago ties. In addition to being the nephew of famed Chicago movie critic, Gene Siskel, he obtained his law degree at the University of Chicago Law School, where he was a student of President Obama, then a constitutional law professor. Siskel also served as the Associate Deputy Attorney General for the Northern District of Illinois under U.S. Attorney General Patrick Fitzgerald from 2005 until 2009, litigating cases related to corporate fraud, public corruption, identity theft, money laundering, and child exploitation. His tenure with Fitzgerald saw the prosecution of former Illinois governors George Ryan and Rod Blagojevich.

In addition to his time in public service, Siskel spent several years at WilmerHale, an influential law firm in Washington D.C. that employs several former high-level officials with the U.S. Department of Defense and Department of Justice. Siskel joined WilmerHale in 2002 after clerking for Judge Dorothy Nelson on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and for Justice John Paul Stevens on the US Supreme Court. He returned in 2014 following his time in the Obama Administration, taking a high-level position in the firm’s “Strategic Response Group”, a division that handles intergovernmental affairs for corporate clients. Cross-Border investigations, cyber security, national security government contracts, and federal general investigations are among the Strategic Response Group’s top matters.

Siskel served as Editor-in-Chief of the University of Chicago Law Review. Wife Rebekah Holman is a federal prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s office.

Education

University of Chicago Law School (Order of the Coif), 2000
Wesleyan University, 1994

Important Political Events

  • Attorney, WilmerHale (2014-2016)
  • Deputy White House Counsel and Deputy Assistant, President Barack Obama (2010-2014)
  • Associate Deputy Attorney General, Department of Justice (2009-2010)
  • Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois (2005-2009)
  • Associate at WilmerHale (2002-2005)
  • Law Clerk, Supreme Court Justice Paul Stevens (2001-2002)

Sources