Kapos: Big money in final days of presidential race

SHARE Kapos: Big money in final days of presidential race

President Donald Trump greets former Boeing Chairman James McNerney at a policy forum in the State Dining Room at the White House on Feb. 3, 2017, in Washington, D.C. | Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

While pollsters left and right predicted Hillary Clinton would handily beat Donald Trump in the Nov. 8 election, a flurry of last-minute political donations shows not everyone was so sure.

Numbers recently released by the Federal Election Commission show Ariel Investments President Mellody Hobson, Newsweb founder Fred Eychaner and Uline CEO Richard Uihlein each gave hundreds of thousands of dollars — or more — in the final days of the contentious campaign.

Hobson donated $234,615 to Fifty-Second Street, a super PAC formed by former Democratic presidential candidate Bill Bradley. The former New Jersey senator and basketball hall-of-famer is a mentor who also walked her down the aisle when she married filmmaker George Lucas a few years ago.

Melody Hobson is president of Ariel Investments. | Ted S. Warren/AP file photo

Melody Hobson is president of Ariel Investments. | Ted S. Warren/AP file photo

Fifty-Second Street created an ad that warned of nuclear warfare should Trump get elected.

James Crown, president of Henry Crown & Co., also gave $50,000 to the group a few weeks before the election as well, according to the FEC.

And just five days before the election, Eychaner gave $1 million to Priorities USA, a pro-Clinton super PAC. He had already given $10 million in the previous months.

Trump benefited from last-minute donations, too.

Uihlein, who had already given millions over the course of the campaign, dropped $400,000 into an anti-Clinton PAC a few days before the election.

Lake Forest businessman Richard Uihlein. | Sun-Times files

Lake Forest businessman Richard Uihlein, co-founder of Uline Corp. | Sun-Times file photo

According to the FEC, Ken Aldridge, whose eponymous company does infrastructure work out of Libertyville, and Jay D. Bergman, president and CEO of Petco Petroleum Corp. in Hinsdale, each donated $10,800 to Trump’s victory fund a few weeks before the election.

Residco President Vince Kolber was among a group of business and civic leaders who attended a Sept. 28 Trump fundraiser at the home of former Fruit of the Loom CEO Bill Farley and his wife, Shelley.

Kolber donated $20,000 at the soiree, which Ivanka Trump headlined.

Paula Fasseas, the Chicago banker and founder of PAWS Chicago animal shelter, also attended and gave $2,700 to Trump’s victory fund.

And former Bears Coach Mike Ditka, an outspoken Trump supporter, and his wife, Diana, were there, too. Her name pops up as giving $500 to the Republican National Committee.

Preckwinkle the pop star

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle | Rich Hein/Sun-Times

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle | Rich Hein/Sun-Times

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle has been knocking on doors to introduce aldermanic candidate Sophia King to residents of the 4th Ward.

You’d have thought Beyonce showed up. “There’s a lot of screaming when people answer the door” and see Preckwinkle standing there, said King’s campaign manager, Mario Lopez. “Older residents especially are really excited to meet her.”

Lopez says Preckwinkle is pure grace in letting King do the talking.

King has been temporary 4th Ward alderman for the past year and now hopes to get elected outright in the Feb. 28 election. She faces four candidates: Gregory Livingston, and attorneys Ebony Lucas, Gerald Scott McCarthy and Marcellus Moore Jr.

Preckwinkle knows the ward well — she was its alderman for two decades.

King also got an endorsement from former President Barack Obama, a friend of her husband — Chicago attorney and disc jockey Alan King.

Sophia King was appointed last year by Mayor Rahm Emanuel to fill the seat vacated by Will Burns. He left to work for Airbnb.

Donors to King read like a who’s who list. They include former Chicago Board of Education President David Vitale; NextLevel Health CEO Cheryl Whitaker; Johnson Publishing Chairman Linda Johnson Rice; city Treasurer Kurt Summers; mayoral adviser Andrea Zopp; Hyde Park Hospitality CEO Marc Brooks; and Black Entertainment Television marketing executive Louis Carr.

Former Boeing CEO’s next gig

Former Boeing CEO Jim McNerney Jr. has been named board president and CEO of the United States Equestrian Team Foundation. It’s a nonprofit that supports competition and training for high-performance athletes and horses in the equestrian world.

McNerney and his wife, Haity, are longtime supporters of show-jumping. The North Shore couple own horses — including “grand prix-level mounts,” according to a release announcing McNerney’s appointment. The couple’s daughters also compete.

Don’t call it a political party

Former Illinois State Sen. Bill Marovitz will be hosting a private event for the Special Olympics and honoring Illinois gubernatorial candidate Chris Kennedy. The Feb. 27 event will be held at Carnivale, which Marovitz co-owns.

Kennedy has a close connection to Special Olympics, of course. His late aunt, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, founded the organization with Anne Burke — now an Illinois Supreme Court Justice. She’s expected to be at the party, too.

Change afoot at Hubbard Street

Jason Palmquist is stepping down as executive director of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago.

He’ll continue working in the field as an associate consultant for Management Consultants for the Arts.

Hubbard Street is conducting a national search.

Palmquist has been with Hubbard Street 10 years. In the past five years, he’s overseen seven world premieres.

His departure comes as the dance company makes plans to find a new headquarters.

Read more Taking Names at shiakapos.com.

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