Rahm Emanuel: Will big bucks decide the Chicago election?
The race for Chicago mayor has never seen this level of fundraising. Rahm Emanuel has raised almost $12 million – and former Sen. Carol Moseley Braun less than half a million.
Rahm Emanuel’s bid to become the next mayor of Chicago is outflanking the competition by millions of dollars, most of it raised before a new Illinois law went into effect to limit contributions from donors.Skip to next paragraph
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According to data from the Illinois State Board of Elections, Mr. Emanuel’s campaign fund totals $11.8 million, about four times more than rival Gary Chico, who has received $2.4 million. Former US Sen. Carol Moseley Braun has $446,000 and Chicago City Clerk Miguel del Valle has about $170,000.
Emanuel’s multimillion dollar lead in fundraising is unprecedented in a Chicago mayoral race, says Cindi Canary, director of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform, a non-profit public interest group located in Chicago. The majority of Emanuel’s take, about $10.5 million, was earned though fundraising that took place between July and December. On Jan. 1, a new state law went into effect that limits individual contributions to $5,000, corporations and unions to $10,000, and political action committees to $50,000 per election.
Ms. Canary’s organization helped advocate for the bill’s passage in an attempt to rectify the pay-to-play politics brought up following the December 2008 arrest of impeached Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. She says that Emanuel’s fundraising advantage has made the current race not dissimilar to previous election cycles involving incumbent Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, where the opposition could generate little financial support to make it an even fight.
“I don’t think anyone [in a Chicago mayoral race] has raised that amount of money in the time line that Rahm Emanuel did. If I were being complimentary, I would say it’s a tour de force. It was absolutely stunning,” she says.
Emanuel’s donations reflect his strong ties to both the financial services and the entertainment industries. President Clinton appointed him to the board of Freddie Mac in 2000 and his brother is an agent with William Morris Endeavor, a powerful talent agency in Hollywood. According to the data, several agents at William Morris contributed up to $5,000 each, totaling $150,000. Emanuel also received money from Hollywood donors such as film director Steven Spielberg, who contributed $75,000, television writer Aaron Sorkin, who contributed $10,000, and David Geffen, who contributed $100,000.