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.
(Page 2 of 2)
Other contributions have come from prominent real estate development and law firms, in Chicago and elsewhere, some of which have performed work for the city in the past. Donald Trump, who opened a hotel and condo complex in downtown Chicago in 2008, contributed $50,000. The Chicago Mercantile Exchange contributed $200,000.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
The Emanuel campaign says it set a voluntary cap on individual contributions at $100,000. Emanuel told the Chicago Tribune last week that his donors consist of “people who have known me throughout my career as a congressman and also as President Obama’s chief of staff and senior adviser to President Clinton.”
Emanuel’s financial leverage allows him to blanket the Chicago airwaves with media ads at the expense of participating in as many community forums as his opponents, most of whom can’t afford to afford to skip the face-to-face exposure. For instance, Emanuel spent $150,000 for an ad that ran during last Sunday’s highly watched football match between the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers.
“His money is the key. His connections are the second key,” says William Grimshaw, a political science professor at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago who specializes in Chicago politics. “So he’s reaching a lot of people, but he’s using money more than public appearances.”
Mr. Chico, the candidate with the second-biggest bankroll in the race, received the majority of his donations from companies his law firm represents in lobbying City Hall, as well as the city’s leading construction companies. He too raised the majority of his donations before the Jan. 1 donation caps went into effect.
Mr. del Valle, who is polling last in the race among the four leading contenders, is using campaign finance reform as one of his primary platforms. He is refusing to accept money from businesses that have contracted with the city and says he favors spending limits more than donor caps because Emanuel would still be able to raise more money than the opposition due to his wealth of contacts across multiple industries.
Speaking by phone Friday, del Valle says the state’s tarnished reputation for pay-to-play politics will never fully vanish due to the US Supreme Court ruling last year that invalidated a part of the 2002 McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform law that sought to limit corporate donors in political campaigns. He says he is using his campaign to highlight what he calls the “hypocrisy” between denouncing pay-to-play politics and the lack of political will to change how campaigns are funded.
“I’m saying you can’t have it both ways. You can solve the problem though public financing and campaign spending limits. Once you even the playing field, then it can become a democracy again where a poor person can run against a rich person,” he says.