Exclusive: Clinton campaign chief to kick off Chicago fundraising on Wednesday

SHARE Exclusive: Clinton campaign chief to kick off Chicago fundraising on Wednesday

WASHINGTON — John Podesta, the chair of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, hits Chicago on Wednesday for what the campaign is calling a “kickoff finance strategy session,” the Chicago Sun-Times has learned.

Marlon Marshall, director of state campaigns and political engagement for Clinton, also will be at the downtown event, to which prospective donors were invited as well as those who already have been Clinton contributors.

Chicago is a potential mega source of cash for Clinton’s Brooklyn-based headquarters. The Podesta and Marshall visit is intended to pave the way for Clinton to come to Chicago for fundraising events.


A copy of the invitation obtained by the Sun-Times said, “On behalf of Hillary for America, please join us for a kickoff finance strategy session.

“Through this briefing and dialogue, you’ll have an early opportunity to connect with other key supporters in your area, and learn more about Hillary’s plan to earn every vote and how you can help.

“. . . As early adopters of the campaign, you provide the momentum and resources needed to help kick-start Hillary for America. For current donors, we encourage you to bring a prospective member.”

Since Bill Clinton’s first White House bid in 1992, Chicago has been a constant source of political money for the couple – even during President Barack Obama’s first White House campaign in 2008, when he locked up most of the top Democratic Chicago fundraisers.

Clinton’s biggest Illinois supporters include J.B. Pritzker, Kevin Conlon, Bill Brandt and pals from her high school days, Betsy Ebeling and Kevin O’Keefe. The band does not have to get back together. The band never split up.

Clinton was born in Chicago and raised in Park Ridge. She attended Maine East and transferred to Maine South when it opened, a member of its first graduating class in 1965. Through the decades, Clinton, who has been a secretary of state, New York senator and first lady, has maintained close ties with buddies from Chicago.

Podesta stepped down as a top adviser to Obama to join the Clinton campaign. A Chicago native, Podesta is a 1967 graduate of Lane Tech High School who grew up in Jefferson Park.

The Illinois finance director is Jeremy Hallahan, a fundraiser in Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s 2015 mayoral campaign. Emanuel, who served in the Clinton White House and was Obama’s first chief of staff, is not scheduled to meet with Podesta on Wednesday.

Clinton is on a fundraising swing, visiting Nevada on Tuesday and Los Angeles, San Francisco and the Bay Area later in the week. For now, she is looking for donations for her direct presidential campaign fund. Priorities USA, a super PAC, will be raising substantial money to help bankroll her bid.

The Clinton campaign also is doing on-the-ground organizing in all 50 states and the Illinois Grassroots Organizer is Michael Brenner, who is based in Chicago.

Brenner is a veteran of former Gov. Pat Quinn’s campaign, where he was the deputy field director, and he also ran the get-out-the-vote drive for the campaign. He also worked in Obama’s 2012 campaign.

Clinton was the first Democrat to get in the race. Last week, Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Vermont Independent, said he will seek the Democratic nomination.

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