Kanye cash follows Chance praise, boosting Amara Enyia mayoral bid

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Rapper Kanye West, left, listens to a question from a reporter during a meeting in the Oval Office earlier this month. File Photo. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci); Mayoral candidate Amara Enyia, right, is interviewed in the Sun-Times newsroom last week. | Rich Hein/Sun-Times

Rapper Kanye West on Monday donated $73,540 to the longshot mayoral campaign of Amara Enyia, six days after Chance the Rapper’s celebrity endorsement elevated Enyia in the crowded race to replace Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

The infusion of cash also comes just 11 days after West’s face-to-face talk with President Donald Trump in the Oval Office made national headlines.

The sizeable donation is the first concrete sign that Chance’s surprise endorsement of Enyia is translating into hard cash for the woman who currently serves as executive director of the Austin Chamber of Commerce, who needs to introduce herself to Chicago voters to have any hope of standing out in the crowd.

A political strategist not aligned with anyone in the race for mayor said Enyia’s campaign is “becoming real” with Kanye’s contribution.

“If Chance does one concert for her, she can raise several hundred thousand in one day,” the strategist said.

At the close of the third-quarter, Enyia reported having just $67.54 in the bank.

The candidate said she has already used West’s contribution to settle a $73,540 debt to the Illinois State Board of Elections stemming from filing fees and penalties never paid that must be resolved before she can get on the mayoral ballot.

“The $73,540 debt to the Illinois State Board of Elections has been paid in full,” the Enyia campaign declared in an emailed statement.

“The Amara Enyia campaign thanks Chicago native, Kanye West, for his generous action. Amara’s campaign is energizing people around the city with bold ideas and solutions that move Chicago forward. We are excited to engage people of all walks of life as we focus our efforts on getting on the ballot.”

County Commissioner Stanley Moore, who has endorsed County Board President Toni Preckwinkle for mayor, said Enyia’s decision to accept West’s donation opens up a whole new line of questioning.

“If you accept money from a person like Kanye West, are you also endorsing his stance on Donald Trump?” Moore said.

“Kanye West has made comments in the past about slavery being the slave’s fault. He has talked about abolishing the 13th amendment. This opens the door for Amara to answer questions about whether or not she is embracing these same philosophies. Is she embracing Trump’s policies that hurt African-Americans?”

Enyia did not return phone calls.

Last week, Enyia told the Chicago Sun-Times that Chance was not only throwing his celebrity power and fundraising muscle behind her candidacy. He’s giving her his time and his ideas on how to confront Chicago’s most vexing issues.

“Typically, with celebrity endorsements, it’s sort of a flash-in-the-pan, one-shot deal….We actually are going to be working together and co-campaigning…essentially until the end of the election cycle,” she said then.

Chance the Rapper and Amara Enyia said they will work on a “massive” voter registration drive in the upcoming election. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Chance the Rapper and Amara Enyia said they will work to register people to vote in the upcoming election. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

“We have many events planned where we’re gonna be talking about key issues around Chicago’s economy, around education—a lot of things that we’ve been active on. We also have a lot of grassroots events that we’ll be doing out in the community … just rallying people. And of course fundraisers as well. And tapping into all of our networks to … create a groundswell of excitement and enthusiasm about the campaign.”

On the day he dramatically elevated Enyia’s long-shot candidacy with his celebrity endorsement, Chance vowed to launch a “massive” voter registration drive to get her elected.

“I’d like to say very narcissistically, if I back you, you have a chance—absolutely,” the Grammy-winning hip-hop artist told a jam-packed City Hall news conference.


Chance the Rapper to join mayoral candidate Amara Enyia at Woodlawn rally

Chance the Rapper endorses Amara Enyia to be Chicago’s next mayor

• Who is Amara Enyia?

• Chance the Rapper lending ideas — not just star power — to Amara Enyia campaign

Asked on that day whether he would also contribute to Enyia’s underfunded campaign, Chance said it was a possibility.

“I haven’t yet, but we’ll see. I got a lot of money, so it would be scary,” he said.

Earlier this month, West wore a “Make America Great Again” cap during an Oval Office meeting with President Donald Trump.

The rapper talked to Trump about ways to reduce crime in Chicago and pressed the president to grant clemency to Gangster Disciples kingpin Larry Hoover, who is currently serving a life sentence in a federal prison in Colorado.

West also confronted Trump over his oft-repeated call to give Chicago police more stop and frisk powers. Trump called a pact between the Chicago Police Department and the ACLU of Illinois “terrible.”

Fresh from a Soho House meeting with Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson and Michael Sacks, Emanuel’s biggest campaign contributor, the rapper said, “We feel that stop and frisk does not help with the relationship in the city and everyone knew I was coming here said, ‘ask about stop and frisk.”

After West spoke at length, Trump said he was “totally open” to any suggestions West made about addressing Chicago violence. Trump did not comment about the plea for Hoover.

“They tried to scare me to not wear this hat,” West said at the start of his riff.

“My dad and my mom separated so there was not a lot of male energy in my home and also I’m married to a family where, you know, there’s not a lot of male energy,” said West, who is married to reality show star Kim Kardashian.

He said when he put the cap on, “you made me feel like Superman.”

Near the end of the Oval Office meeting, West walked behind the desk and hugged Trump.

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