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Edward J Barrett

Illinois, USA
Death Apr 1977 (aged 77)
Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, USA
Burial Unknown
Memorial ID 63744248 · View Source
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Chicago Tribune (IL) - April 05, 1977

Edward Barrett, longtime Democratic power, dies

Deceased Name: EDWARD J. BARRETT

EDWARD J. BARRETT, a former Cook County clerk and a power in Illinois Democratic politics for more than 40 years before being convicted in a bribery-kickback scheme, died on Monday in Veterans Administration Lakeside Hospital after a long illness. He was 77.

A World War I enlistee at the age of 17 and a Marine in World War II, Barrett had been transferred to the veterans hospital two weeks ago from Columbus Hospital, where he had been a patient for two months, according to his widow, Jeanne Payne, a millinery designer and his second wife, whom he had married in 1948.

Barrett grew up on the South Side and attended St. Rita High School, then went to Spaulding Institute before being graduated from the old Mayo College. His political career began at the precinct level; he served as a precinct captain on the South Side.

A TOP DEMOCRATIC vote-getter in local and statewide elections for years, the outgoing and genial Barrett-with a good war record behind him-surprised most people by winning the Democratic primary and then the 1930 election to become the youngest state treasurer in history.

He won election as state auditor in 1932, and was re-elected in 1936. Chicago's Kelly-Nash machine dumped him as the party's candidate for auditor in 1940, and with Barrett out of the race, Republicans swept the state ticket.

While serving as a Marine sergeant in World War II, Barrett was nominated by the Democrats for secretary of state in 1944. He sat out the campaign in Hawaii and the Great Lakes Naval Training Station and- without making a speech-won. He was re-elected in 1948.

ONE OF THE few losses in his long political career came in the 1952 race for secretary of state, when he fell only 9,303 votes short of winning in the Eisenhower and Republican landslide.

Less than three years later, Barrett's good friend Richard J. Daley was elected mayor, and Daley engineered Barrett's appointment to succeed him as Cook County clerk.

In the 1958 election, Barrett responded by leading the Democratic ticket to victory in the off-year race for county offices. He was swept into office in three succeeding elections.

BARRETT WAS serving as county clerk when a U.S. District Court indictment charged him with receiving $180,000 in bribes and kickbacks from an eastern firm that sold voting machines

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to the county, and $6,000 from the company that insured the county's voting machines.

His conviction March 7, 1973, on charges of bribery, income tax evasion, and mail fraud, brought cries of dismay from top Democratic leaders and even a few Republicans.

The conviction called a "black day for Chicago," by Circuit Court Clerk Matthew Danaher, a Democrat, who later was also indicted by a federal grand jury in a kickback scheme, but died before his trial.

"I've known Eddie since I was a boy. Here's a man who was a fine public official, and it's a shame that this has to happen to him at the end of a great career, especially when he's sick," Danaher said.

Barrett subsequently was sentenced in April, 1973, to three years in prison and fined $15,000. He lost a two-year court battle to stay out of prison-a fight that reached the U.S. Supreme court in 1975.

He escaped incarceration when the U. S. Parole Board in Washington voted to parole the ailing ex-politician in January 22, 1976, on the day he would have made history by becoming the first American civilian to serve a prison sentence in his home.

TWO DAYS BEFORE the parole board's decision, the U.S. Bureau of Prisons had designated Barrett's home as the place where he would serve his sentence because he was suffering from a variety of illnesses.

A government-appointed doctor said Barrett was suffering from heart disease, emphysema, cataracts on both eyes, high blood pressure, a hernia, cirrhosis, and an infection from an old World War I wound.

The parole board ruling overturned an order by the late U. S. District Court Judge Richard B. Austin, who had ordered Barrett incarcerated despite the doctor's catalog of his ailments. The board ruled that Barrett would have to report to his parole officer between the first and third day of each month, and could not leave northern Illinois.

U.S. Atty Samuel Skinner said at the time that he had interceded for the parole on Barrett's behalf because he was an "extremely ill man."

BARRETT THROUGHOUT maintained his innocence. In May, 1975, after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld his conviction, he told an interviewer, "I still say I had so very little to do with that stuff I got convicted of. When I first heard the charges made, I didn't even want to dignify them with denials-I thought if I did, people would think they had some substance."

Besides his widow, Barrett is survived by three sisters: Mrs. Catherine Ryan, Mrs. Mary Feeney, and Mrs. Florence Smith. Visitation will be Wednesday from noon to 10 p.m. in the chapel at 6125 N. Clark St. Mass will be said Thursday at 11 a.m. in St. Clements Catholic Church, 642 W. Deming Pl.



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