The other day I wrote about how 12th Ward alderman George Cardenas hadn’t raised a single buck in the first half of 2008, according to his most recent campaign filings, even though he’d brought in tens of thousands in the two reporting periods before this one.

Monday he told me it had nothing to do with the official end of the Hispanic Democratic Organization, which had helped him win his seat–twice.

Cardenas said his fund-raising was down because he’s in office to give, not to receive.

“I don’t have any relatives on the payroll, and I’ve been here, what, five, six years?”


“I don’t have anybody on the city payroll, the county payroll, nothing. I didn’t come here to get something. I came to try to do something for the community.”

And it’s not that he couldn’t have raised more money the first half of the year; he just decided not to.

“I think a lot of businesses don’t like to fund political candidates,” he said. “A lot of people ask, ‘So what does he do with that money?’”

Still, it is unusual for an alderman or any elected official to stop fund-raising altogether. “We did raise a little,” Cardenas said. “We had one small event.”

But the records he submitted to the state election board say he didn’t get any contributions. None.

“My accountant will probably have to send in a correction.”

Cardenas said he actually asked people not to donate to his campaign fund.

“Before, I’d pay for jumping jacks at community events, or buy beverages or piñatas,” he said. “So this time I’m asking people to donate straight to the community events or groups. They can buy the beverages for them directly. I think it’s better to do it that way, especially since I’m not running for anything right now.”

As for the HDO . . .

“There’s a misconception about that,” he said. “Those folks helped me when I first got elected, and they helped other elected officials as well. But the way I see it is that you’re really on your own. Me, I’m a businessman. I could always go back to that. I can fend for myself quite nicely.”