Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot is speaking out after being sued for defamation by a former Chicago Park District attorney who accused her of using obscenities against him.
Lightfoot said in a March 6 radio address, “I am deeply offended by the ridiculous and outrageous allegations in that lawsuit and the suggestion that, somehow, I hold animus towards Italians and Italian Americans. Nothing could ever be further from the truth.”
She continued, “I look forward to the facts being proven in a court of law and really underscoring the fact that this lawsuit has zero merit.”
The lawsuit, filed on March 2 by George Smyrniotis, says he “was forced to resign” on February 22, 2022, after the mayor damaged his reputation as an attorney during an October 2021 Zoom call with other department heads and lawyers.
Smyrniotis claims that he suffered a loss of income and “great emotional stress” from Lightfoot’s comments over his negotiating with the Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans (JCCIA) to bring the statue back for a parade. One year after the statue was removed in July 2020, the JCCIA sued to force the Chicago Park District to return the statue to its pedestal in the city’s Little Italy neighborhood.
On the Zoom call, Lightfoot was accused of berating the Smyrniotis and Chicago Park District General Counsel Timothy King, saying, “you [expletive], what the [expletive] were you thinking?”
The lawsuit claims Lightfoot launched a barrage of vulgarities and obscenities on the call targeting the two men, speaking about their genitalia. The court document accuses her of saying:
“You [expletive], what the [expletive] were you thinking? You make some kind of secret agreement with Italians, what you are doing, you are out there measuring your [expletive] with the Italians seeing who's got the biggest [expletive], you are out there stroking your [expletive] over the Columbus statue, I am trying to keep Chicago Police officers from being shot and you are trying to get them shot. My [expletive] is bigger than yours and the Italians, I have the biggest [expletive] in Chicago.”
The lawsuit claims Lightfoot questioned whether he went to law school or possessed a law license. “Get that [expletive]statue back before noon tomorrow or I am going to have you fired.”
The lawsuit seeks lost income for the two years that Smyrniotis worked until retirement at age 67 totaling $138,936, as well as compensation for his reduced pension. It also seeks compensatory damages and “any other relief that this court deems just.”