After raking in $30 million in the last five years, $11 million of it for his re-election campaign, you’d think Mayor Rahm Emanuel would have enough money.
Over the last week alone, the mayor has added nearly $800,000 to that total, much of it made possible by huge contributions that would not have been possible if state caps were still in place.
WATCHDOGS: Rahm nears $30 million for mayoral race
The mayor’s latest filing came Tuesday, detailing $463,500 in contributions from a Who’s Who of business and labor.
It includes $76,000 from the IBEW PAC Voluntary Fund, $25,000 apiece from the Finishing Trades of Chicago Co-Op PAC and the Painters District Council #14 Political Action Fund and $25,000 from Dave Billy of the International Association of Firefighters.
The Chicago Firefighters Union Local 2 recently announced its surprise endorsement of Emanuel after supporting mayoral challenger Gery Chico over Emanuel four years ago.
The filing on Tuesday also includes $50,000 from Peak 6 Investments LP; $25,000 from insurance magnate Patrick Ryan, chairman of Chicago’s ill-fated 2016 Olympic bid committee; $20,000 from Chris and Jude Reyes of Reyes Holdings LLC; $15,000 from Dave Cohen, executive vice president of Comcast; $10,000 apiece from retired Exelon chairman John Rowe, Archer Daniels Midland CFO Ray Young and former Microsoft CEO and Los Angeles Clippers owner Steven Ballmer, and $5,300 from ADM board chairman Patricia Woertz.
Just six days earlier, Emanuel reported $335,000 in contributions that included another $75,000 from billionaire hedge fund manager Ken Griffin; $50,000 apiece from M.K. Pritzker and Jay Pritzker; $35,000 from Kimberly Keywell, wife of Groupon and Lightbank co-founder Brad Keywell; $25,000 apiece from developer Al Friedman and Marc Utay, managing partner of Clarion Capital Partners LLC, and $20,000 from the Administrative District Council 1 of Illinois.
The Chicago Sun-Times reported earlier this week that Emanuel, the super-PAC created to help re-elect him and a second political fund he controls have raised $30 million since he stepped down as White House chief of staff and returned home to run for mayor.
The newspaper reported that some of Emanuel’s campaign contributions have come from people who have benefited from actions he or city agencies or pension funds have taken.
For example, about 5 percent of that total — $1.7 million — has come from developers; from employees of companies that do business with City Hall, city pension funds or city agencies, and from Chicago’s two financial exchanges, which Emanuel has supported by speaking out against proposals that would tax stock and futures trades.
Emanuel also appears to be benefiting from the post-recession rise in privately financed building projects approved by the city on his watch, as well as from big-ticket public works initiatives including the CTA Red Line reconstruction and the Chicago Riverwalk extension. Unions representing plumbers, electricians, ironworkers and others put to work by those projects have given the mayor’s two funds and the super PAC nearly $1.9 million since Emanuel left his post as White House chief of staff for President Barack Obama and came home to run for mayor.
The $799,000 raised over the last week only adds to that amazing total. Much of the new money would not have been possible if caps had still been in place.
Last fall, a $100,000 self-donation from a mayoral hopeful who ultimately decided not to run lifted state caps that would have limited campaign donations in the race for mayor to $5,300 from individuals, $10,500 from corporations and $52,600 for political action committees.
That allowed Emanuel to go back to the same heavy-hitters who had already maxed out to his campaign.
Even before the latest haul, Emanuel had raised more than four times the combined amount of money that his four challengers in the city’s Feb. 24 election have raised in their entire political careers.
Earlier this month, Emanuel defended the frenzied pace at which he continues to raise money in his race to attract the 50 percent-plus one votes he needs to avoid a run-off.
It happened after he was asked whether it’s “good for democracy” that he feels the need to raise that much money to run for mayor of Chicago.
“What’s important in a democracy is that people know where you stand and what your positions are. Do you have the ideas? Do you have the record? And do you have also the determination, the strength to see those ideas through,” he said then.
“As it relates particularly to your campaign question — I’ve always advocated free TV time. And I don’t see a lot of broadcasters do that. Where does 80 percent of your money go? To the broadcasters. If they want to make it free, you’ll see a lot less fundraising.”
Last year, the mayor struck a slightly different tone when asked about his notorious fundraising.
“I’ve been around politics helping President Clinton get elected and re-elected, President Obama get elected and re-elected. I’ve done it, not just for myself but to help Nancy Pelosi become the first female speaker. You prepare — not for a candidate. You prepare for an election to tell the voters what you’ve done and also what you plan on doing because elections are about tomorrow,” he said then.