- Chandler West/Sun-Times Media
- Chicago Forward, the new political action committee set up to help Mayor Rahm Emanuel, faces no legal limits on how much money it can raise.
For the last few weeks, the anyone-but-Rahm crowd has been giddily contemplating a city in which we have a new and more progressive mayor.
Or at least a mayor who won’t invoke the name of Martin Luther King Jr. while closing schools and clinics.
Well, this week Mayor Emanuel fired back by saying: don’t even think about running, suckers!
Actually, it wasn’t the mayor talking so much as his donors.
In the course of a week, eight of them kicked in a total of $1 million to an operation called Chicago Forward. It’s a political action committee set up by some of the mayor’s allies.
That’s a lot of money, my friends. And it comes on top of the $7 million that’s already sitting in Emanuel’s own campaign fund.
It gives the mayor more of what he doesn’t need—dough to air attack ads against anyone who dares to run against him. Or the money can be used to go after aldermen who haven’t sufficiently applauded his big PR efforts, like the George Lucas museum.
What’s most impressive is that almost all of the money arrived on one day—June 24. The mayor’s opponents would be lucky to raise $1 million in a month.
Heading the list of donors was the mayor’s good friend Michael Sacks, CEO of Grosvenor Capital Management. He gave $150,000.
Another Grosvenor exec, Paul Meister, kicked in $50,000. Grosvenor employees and family members donated at least $500,000 to Emanuel’s last mayoral bid.
John Canning, Paul Finnegan, and Samuel Mencofff—three execs from Madison Dearborn Partners, a private equity company—donated a total of $350,000 to Chicago Forward.
Barry Malkin, a developer, gave $150,000.
Eric Lefkofsky, CEO of Groupon, donated $150,000.
And Kenneth Griffin gave $150,000.
If the Griffin name is familiar, it’s because you remember him as the fabulously rich hedge fund dude who recently donated $2.5 million to Bruce Rauner, the Republican candidate for governor.
In fact, you can be forgiven for mistaking Rahm’s donors for Rauner’s. Lefkofsky also donated $100,000 to Rauner.
As you can see, it’s all just one big, happy bipartisan family in the plutocracy known as Illinois.
On the bright side for the mayor, he can use this list to counterattack the pundits—okay, me—who say he’s exceedingly unpopular in Chicago.
Of course, of the eight guys on this list, one lives in Highland Park, another lives in Glencoe, a third lives in Inverness, and a fourth lives in Evanston.
E-town! I can see the standards have definitely declined since I moved out in the ’70s.
Like I always say—the farther you go from Chicago, the more popular the mayor becomes.
You might be wondering how a state that recently reformed its campaign donation laws would permit one candidate to raise $1 million from eight rich guys in a few days.
As you might have imagined, it wouldn’t be a campaign financing law if it didn’t have a few loopholes.
In this case, the big boys weren’t facing any contribution limits because they didn’t give their money directly to Mayor Emanuel—it went to Chicago Forward, which is something called an independent expenditure PAC. Donors can give unlimited amounts to such organizations.
I won’t be surprised if some of these same fellers offer even more money to Chicago Forward before it’s over.
By the way, Chicago Forward is run by my old pal Becky Carroll, who used to be Rahm’s spokeswoman at the Chicago Public Schools.
What up, Becky!
This is all one more reason you should never, ever use the word reform in association with anything out of Illinois.