Republican National Lawyers Association | (RNLA)
Republican National Lawyers Association | (RNLA)

Member Profile

Mr. Kevin E. White

Kevin Edward White & Associates
Regular Member
300 North LaSalle Street
Suite 4925
Chicago, IL 60654

Phone: 3126068602
Fax: 3126068603
Web Site: Kevin Edward White & Associates

Law School: University of Wisconsin (1981)
Foreign Languages: Spanish

Practice Areas:

[Kevin Edward White, is a long-time resident (25+ years) of the Old Irving Park neighborhood, on the northwest side of Chicago. What follows was adopted from his web site biography, as presented during his 2006 campaign for United States Congress]

Political convictions result from the formative events of one's life. What follow are some formative events in mine.

An American, First

When asked my heritage, I answer "American."

Born in 1954 and raised in Evanston, Illinois, I am one of ten children. On my father's side my roots are Irish and Catholic. My father's parents were born and grew up in and around Morris, Illinois, before moving to Chicago.

My father's mother was a Foley. His grandmother on his father's side was a Laplander, or so it was claimed. In family photographs she appears darker skinned and flat-faced. On my mother's side, my roots are Scotch Irish and Presbyterian. In high school, my father was brought back to the faith of his Irish ancestors, and before marrying him my mother converted to Catholicism.

If Less Well off Than Others, We Never Knew It

As I was growing up, my father worked at several different occupations.

When first married, my parents borrowed money from their parents to start a printing business. As our family grew, my father was employed in advertising. I can still recall him showing me plate making, and watching a State Street Christmas parade from the windows of one of his offices. He also designed our family Christmas cards each year.

Later my father sold cars, and still later life insurance. At one time, and without us kids knowing it, he drove a cab nights. For a while, my mother also worked (as we now say, "outside the home") at the U. S. Post Office.

My memories of childhood are of a happy and comfortable life. If less well off than others, we never knew it. My mother was a conscientious housekeeper. My father enjoyed household projects. These he did, sometimes with the help of his father, but rarely relying on outside professionals. An aunt who worked in a local bakery provided us with day old baked goods we would never have purchased for ourselves.

My grandparents on both sides were always at our house, or we at theirs, for birthdays, the holidays, or for weekend (overnights), which we loved. Holiday dinners especially were as "formal" as circumstances permitted.

What my family had, we shared. When I was younger, foreign exchange students, one from Korea, another from Columbia and a third from Bolivia shared our home at different times.

We took a South Side family from Mississippi under our wings, trying to help them get through their difficult lives, and occasionally taking them a basket of groceries. We remain close to that extended family. If my parents ever relied on a penny of government help, I never knew it. We relied on the endless generosity of others, grandparents and other family, our friends and our neighbors. Others, likewise, relied on us.

In their early married life, my parents were deeply involved with the Christian Family Movement, and remain great admirers of Dorothy Day. In the sixties my father traveled to Selma, Alabama to support the Freedom Riders. When he returned to work, and his fellow salesmen learned of what he had done, they teased that he was a "n----r-lover," (the n-word to this day being a term loathsome to me). My earliest recollection of a political event is an airport reception at O' Hare to see Richard Nixon, probably when he was Dwight Eisenhower's Vice President, and later passing out leaflets for Donald Rumsfeld, when he first ran for Congress. My parents were always active in parish activities, too. I rode on many a parish Fourth of July float.

A Gentle Brush Against A Harder Reality

When less than a year old, I had contracted polio. Only months later, the Salk vaccine came on the market. More fortunate than most, I remember suffering little, and probably enjoyed the increased attention I got from the illness.

Plainly I was more fortunate than my doctor's other young patients. I still remember the photographs of them on his office walls, happy to be alive and grinning at the camera from their "iron lungs."

My recovery included several reconstructive surgeries across many years. How my parents paid for my rehabilitation I do not know. Likely the doctors collected less than they had earned.

My family was fanatical about education. My mother's grandmother and father had both been school teachers, albeit he for only for a short while. Though not as well-educated formally, my grandparents on my father's side loved reading.

The first four of my siblings and I attended local parochial grade schools; the later five of us were "public." The tuition at the parochial school was ridiculously low, in part because the school was subsidized by the parish and by the service of the nuns and the priests who taught there. My parents claimed we transferred to the public schools because of differences with a pastor. Perhaps so. But when that pastor moved on, my siblings remained in the public schools. In the end, whichever the school, all ten of us had access to good, though very different, grade school educations.

Next came high school, at Evanston Township. As a result of the after effects of my polio, I did not do much with organized sports, but did swim my sophomore year. A cousin was the sophomore swim coach and was willing to tolerate my slow pace. I played pick up basketball games at the local parks, and baseball in local Boy Scout summer leagues. My first overtly political act, I suppose, was to "boycott" a day of classes, in memory of the students slain at Kent State.

Entering The Working World

My first foray into the working world was as a babysitter. As the second oldest in a family of ten, I learned early to change diapers, and did so often. Later I cut lawns in the neighborhood, worked after school in local department stores, and at a fried chicken restaurant. My employment at the chicken store led to me volunteering to work the food court for two weeks at the Illinois State Fair in Springfield.

It was never an option not to go to college. But I would have to pay my own way. With the help of my own earnings, and generous private and public grants and scholarships, I graduated from college debt-free. I also put myself through law school. To do that I did incur debt, which took me many years finally to pay off.

One such early college grant, albeit given reluctantly, was from the Pullman Foundation, of Chicago. At that time I had no idea of the history of the Pullman Company in Chicago.

The scholarship was given reluctantly because the school I had chosen to attend, Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio, was not one much favored by the Foundation. An earlier scholarship recipient who attended there had not panned out.

But the Pullman people were willing to take another chance with me. I was always grateful for that.

My parents drove me out to Antioch in the fall of 1972. They told me only later how appalled they were by the condition of the campus.

Antioch must have been suggested to me by a high school counselor. I am sure that I had never heard of it. It attracted me, for its "work-study" program that I thought would allow me both to pay for my college education and to see the world.

When I arrived on campus, my first school job was mucking stalls at the school's stables. Although at the time I thought it "organic," my fellow students must have wondered when I came to Calculus class each day smelling so of horses, and with straw stuck to my work boots.

An Unexpected Education

I was at Antioch for less than a year. In the fall of 1972, the Viet-Nam War was winding down. Student protests of it continued, however. My own protest never evolved much beyond attending campus meetings. My financial aid job at the school's stable did not accommodate my leaving campus to attend demonstrations and the like. I cringe to think that anything we ever did prolonged the mission of our troops overseas. We were earnest and compassionate in our protests, but also naive.

After my first semester I went off campus to work in Washington, D. C. My first work-study job employment was in a government office of some kind; which one I no longer recall. The work, which involved computer card coding, was mind-numbingly dull. Even those government workers employed full-time doing it, a whole roomful of them, did as little work each day as they thought they could get away with. I asked Antioch's placement office for a transfer to something else. I ended up at Ralph Nader's Center for Auto Safety, also doing card coding, in effect, tracking manufacturer's defects on the "Volvo Project."

Somewhere in the bowels of the Secret Service archives for that year there may be a report of a minor incident at a White House gate. A friend and I had noticed what appeared to be an electric eye embedded in the top of the White House fence. What would happen, we wondered, if someone blocked the beam for just an instant?

While in Washington I lived in a co-op house, took up photography (black and white because it was cheaper), watched from the curbside Lyndon Johnson's funereal procession, and working my way through the National Cathedral, then still very much under construction.

A Striking Development

While working in Washington D. C., the students still on campus called a "strike," and closed down the school to classes. The strike was to protest the college's decision to cut back severely on financial aid. It seems when federal dollars were more plentiful, and Antioch's enrollment was down, the college had recruited students from some of the worst slums in the country to come to Yellow Springs. When the federal money dried up, the college's first impulse was to abandon these students, most of whom were black and highly unlikely to continue their education elsewhere. This was a rude awakening to the workings of the welfare state.

When I returned to campus, in late Spring 1972, the school was still on strike. The campus Marxists thought it was all a delightful chance to test their class conflict theories. As a result of the strike, I also learned what it felt like to be pushed around by helmeted police in riot gear, which is what was required finally to re-open the campus. Looking back, I know now that we had no right to close the school, or to put the local police at risk to re-open it. The strike left bitterness on all sides.
Eventually classes resumed. But by now disillusioned I declined to invest anything further of myself in Antioch. I returned home both wiser and poorer, and took up the roofing trade with my grandfather. My grandfather was by then more than 65 years old. A teenager during the Depression, he told me stories of pumping a local church organ on Sundays. For him, not working every day was unthinkable. But roofing was all that he knew. His biggest frustration was that, if he earned too much he would risk losing part of his Social Security check.

As a roofer I could earn a lot of money, be outside and stay in good shape to boot. So pleased was he with my help, that my grandfather wanted me to take over his roofing business. But I was determined to return to school. I knew by then that I wanted to become a lawyer. The 1968 Democratic National Convention and its aftermath, including the Chicago 7 trials, and later the Watergate hearings convinced me to pursue a legal career. Attorneys seemed to be in the middle of everything. Roofing by day, I took undergraduate classes at Northwestern University at night. My grandfather only stopped roofing when he could no longer climb a ladder.

Knox College and Then Law School

In 1974 I re-started my undergraduate career, at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois. My older sister had attended there and I had been accepted earlier so getting in was not a problem. At Knox, a roommate whose family's great wealth allowed him to ascribe to it exposed me to Ayn Rand libertarianism. I also was exposed to the United States Constitution, American political theory and the Federalist Papers through a pre-law curriculum at the college that I can still recommend to this day, because the same professor still oversees it.

At Knox, I also met my future wife, Geraldine. I knew her then as "Rusty," for her red hair. We met at another co-op house, when she opposed the admission to the house of me and my roommate. We were admitted over her protests, which she insists to this day was nothing personal. She just wanted more women in the house.

Geraldine also had grown up in Chicago, on North Ashland Avenue, one of twelve. Her roots too are Irish, though purer and deeper than mine. Her father worked for a dairy. When he started, he delivered milk door-to-door. When he retired, he was doing data processing.

Geraldine's family had moved out of Chicago to the western suburbs in the seventies. Much later we learned that our parents had known and worked with each other in the Christian Family Movement.

At Knox I declared a double major, in Economics and in Political Science. My recollections of Economics were of Samuelson and graphs. As a Political Science major, I devoured Hobbes, Montesquieu, Rousseau, Machiavelli and particularly John Locke. I also read the Federalist Papers cover to cover for the first time, and learned an awful lot of history. I tried to digest John Rawls, too, but he proved too obtuse for me.

At Knox, I also dabbled in what today would be described as "progressive" politics, and worked on the first Jimmy Carter campaign. Carter's primary opponent in that election was Teddy Kennedy, for whom I had no respect. The memory of Chappaquiddick was still fresh.

An Early Campaign with Jimmy Carter

My work on the Carter campaign in Galesburg was appreciated enough that I was invited to attend one of his People's Inauguration balls. Hitchhiking alone overnight to Washington, D.C., in freezing weather, I almost got killed by a snow plow at about 3:00 in the morning. The driver of the plow either didn't see me on the highway shoulder, or didn't care. He didn't even swerve. I only avoided getting hit by scrambling up on a snow bank. I did not work on Carter's second campaign. By then Ronald Reagan had caught my attention.

Early in my second year at Knox, I learned that a deceased uncle had left me a small bequest. He traveled widely. I had never traveled at all, other than summer car camping trips as a child.

At that time, Knox offered a two week tour over the Christmas break of what was then the Soviet Union. Directed by a Russian language professor of Yugoslavian descent, participants got academic credit for participating and so I signed up. The trip was peopled mostly with Russian language students, although some political science and history majors also went. It was the first time I had ever flown.

Travel Overseas

In the Soviet Union, we were closely watched, and shepherded around by Intourist guides who spent most of the time extolling the virtues of communism. It was a hard sell. When our skeptical questioning wore down one guide, Intourist substituted in a fresh one. None could keep up with us, though. The few private citizens we met were more interested in the square footage of our homes and how many cars our families owned than ideology. Change was in the air.

That visit opened my eyes to the grotesque reality of the "nanny state," particularly when shod in hobnail boots. I still remember vividly a group of people on the grounds of the Kremlin being forced into official sedans that had appeared from nowhere when one of them had tried to unfurl a banner of some kind.

Somewhere in my personal archives is an audio tape of the sound of the midnight changing of the guard at Lenin's tomb. That morbid and chilling curiosity to me said all that needed to be said of the false hope of communism. That Lenin's tomb is still on the Kremlin grounds is a reminder to me of how dangerous the world can be.

While at Knox I and several dozen devoted others revived the weekly student newspaper, "The Knox Student," and I served as its editor for almost two years. Some years later, my wife presented me with a bound volume of the issues of The Student that I had edited. That bound volume is a treasured possession. It represents an awful lot of effort.

My degree from Knox, with honors, was in Economics and in Political Science, a double major. Two other honors bestowed on me at Knox I have also treasured. One was a prize named after a revered American Studies professor that I won from the American Studies Department at Knox for a paper I wrote on the role of Illinois newspapers in the Civil War. The second was my election to the Lincoln Academy of Illinois. Lincoln Academy Student laureates today are chosen by the chief executive officers of their respective institutions, who also serve as Academic Trustees of The Lincoln Academy of Illinois. They are chosen for their overall excellence in curricular and extracurricular activities. As Knox College is one of the sites of the Lincoln-Douglas debates, and as even then I was developing my abiding reverence for Abraham Lincoln, I could not have been more pleased.

Law School in 'Mad' City

Between college and law school and as a Lincoln Laureate I served as an intern in the Illinois Department of Law Enforcement. Springfield, Illinois in the summer, when the legislature is out of session, can be a very quiet place. It also is very hot. There is a reservoir there, where swimming emphatically is not allowed. I have a vague recollection of another encounter with the local gendarmes that summer, who thought that I had failed to observe the sign to that effect.

My pre-law advisor at Knox urged me to go to law school in Texas. Had I done so my life would have taken quite a different trajectory. But I wanted to stay closer to home, though not too close. So I went to the University of Wisconsin Law School, in Madison, instead.

Again, the naif, I just missed qualifying academically for law review. Had I even understood what law review was, or how one qualified for it, I could have worked just a little bit harder and qualified for it. But there had been no lawyers in my family, at least since a great-great grandfather on my mother's side who, of course, was not available to give me guidance.

While in Madison, I also got involved for the first time with the pro-life movement. Our primary activity was to pamphlet and petition. I had never thought much about abortion before, but began thinking about it then.

Though a practicing Roman Catholic, my public opposition to abortion is based more on my political and moral beliefs than something imposed on me by my chosen religious doctrine. Abraham Lincoln once said that, "if slavery is not wrong, then nothing is wrong."

Most would agree the same applies to abortion. I have yet to understand how we can contend that any wrong can be made right by the taking of an innocent human life Abortion also fails one of my fundamental tests of public policy: I can not explain to a child what an abortion is without feeling shame.

The pro-life movement attracts some very fine people to its ranks. Not every one perhaps, but most. One such person, who I met in Madison, is today a sister-in-law.

After my second year in law school I was accepted as a summer clerk at the Chicago law firm of Winston & Strawn. That firm, as the practice of law in general, was different then from what it is now. Winston & Strawn was dominated then by relatively young, thoroughly Irish Catholic lawyers.

Life In The Faster Lane

We liked to work hard and to play hard too. Winston & Strawn was white shoe and at the same time fraternal. I felt so much at home, I stayed for the next 20 years. When I left Winston & Strawn in 2003, to continue in my own litigation practice, Winston & Strawn had grown from some 120 lawyers, primarily in Chicago, to the internationally known firm of some 800+ attorneys that it has become today.

As a Winston & Strawn litigator, I worked on a wide variety of interesting matters, and also was thoroughly educated about the intersection of the law, economics and politics. One of my earliest cases resulted in the transfer to the Art Institute of Chicago of the Harding Museum's collection of arms and armor, which is today one of that museum's most popular displays. In another case, representing one of the directors of the John D. MacArthur Foundation, I met Jonas Salk, who was one of the Foundation's first directors. In a case for United Airlines, I also met Neil Armstrong. A third case only concluded when Judge Nicholas Bua, now deceased, ordered the supreme ruler of Abu Dhabi to Chicago for a deposition, if he wanted to pursue the litigation that he had initiated here. The Sheik did not and the matter settled on terms very favorable to our commodity firm client. I also participated in one of the few civil actions ever brought against Michael Milliken and Drexel Lambert that resulted in a favorable outcome for the plaintiff. Even many of Rudy Giuliani's RICO verdicts against Drexel were overturned on appeal. In June 2003, I left Winston & Strawn to start my own litigation practice, Kevin Edward White & Associates. At my own firm, I can represent the same kinds of clients that I did at Winston & Strawn, but without the burden of a giant firm overhead, the pressure to bill or the constant controversy that often comes with all of that territory.

It is often wondered why so many lawyers find there way into politics, and in state and national legislatures. It is, I think, because lawyers, and particularly those who litigate, have made it their life's work to understand government, how it really works, and how people really work too. As a litigator at Winston & Strawn, I learned to listen, to read more critically, to think problems through for practical solutions, and to listen again. Listening, in particular, is a key aspect of being a good legislator.

New Horizons in Chicago

Winston & Strawn opened other doors to me that previously were closed. When I returned to Chicago I lived in my own apartment in Old St. Michael's parish in Old Town. That area then was a little more "urban frontier" then than it is today. I enjoyed it thoroughly. My wife-to-be, Geraldine also lived in the city after she completed her MBA at the University of Chicago in 1985. After moving into my new neighborhood, I learned that my future father-in-law had grown up in the Old St. Michael's parish, and had attended grade school in a building that had by then been converted to condominiums.

While still unmarried and a freshly minted lawyer, I continued to travel overseas whenever I could. In 1983 a high school friend and I went to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico where I tried parasailing, and rode horseback far into the countryside to see sights most tourists never reach. In Mexico I also learned to better appreciate my Catholic faith, as I attended Sunday services familiar to me and well attended, though in another tongue. In 1984, I traveled to Bolivia, to visit the family of one of the exchange students who had lived with me and my family when I was a boy. Using my friend's home in Santa Cruz as a base, and his oldest son as a translator, I traveled to several other cities in that fascinating country. The mansions I saw being built in rural Bolivia even then, presumably from drug trade profits, was a stark contrast to the poverty I saw elsewhere. Also remarkable was the work private charities there were doing, against seemingly insurmountable odds. Later the son who accompanied me on my tour of Bolivia played soccer for the Bolivian national team. We still have a Blue Faced Amazon parrot in our household as a result of that trip.

In 1985 I visited several cities in Italy, Greece and the former Yugoslavian state, traveling by plane, train and ferry boats to cross the Aegean Sea.

In 1986, when Geraldine and I married, we honeymooned overseas. Our final destination was my secret until we were on the plane and taking off. Geraldine had been an exchange student in Austria the year before I had met her, and we returned to that country to visit friends she had made there, and to see the sites she had known.

One of the most chilling I recall was the cement remnants of a Nazi antiaircraft tower, still glowering on the skyline of Vienna, as life went on around it as though it were just another municipal apartment building. It was then an aquarium, I think.

Re-Committing to the City

Geraldine and I married in August of 1986. After our marriage, Geraldine and I chose to continue to live in Chicago. We brought a home near my older sister, Elizabeth, and her families in what the realtors now call "Old Irving Park."

We chose to live in the city, to expose our children to the urban life that so many in the world now experience. Our children are proud to be Chicagoans. They think they have street smarts, but of course we know better.

Our marriage has been blessed with six children. With the arrival of each, our big house grew smaller. We too car camp, and wallow in American history on our travels.

Although we are heavily taxed to pay for the public schools, all of our children have been educated in local parochial schools. It is an option that many of our friends and neighbors have chosen too, even at great sacrifice. They think little of sacrificing a better life style today, to assure that their children will be well-educated.

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