Mayoral candidate Amara Enyia on Tuesday pushed back against the notion that she has to answer for Kanye West’s support for President Donald Trump, simply because she accepted a $73,540 donation from the Chicago-born rapper.
“I’m clearly not a Trump supporter. Never have been,” Enyia said.
“With Kanye, it was the fact that he saw a campaign that represents where Chicago can go and what Chicago can be and he is supporting that. That’s the dynamic. Kanye is clearly a supporter of our vision for Chicago and he’s willing to put his money where his mouth is to make it happen.”
Earlier this week, West donated $73,540 to Enyia’s longshot campaign, following the lead of his friend and collaborator, Chance the Rapper, whose celebrity endorsement elevated Enyia in the crowded race to replace Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
Enyia promptly used the money 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.
But the fact that Kanye’s cash came just days after West made national headlines during an Oval Office meeting with Trump made it fodder in the mayor’s race.
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?”
On Tuesday, Enyia said it’s “legitimate for people to ask” the question about whether she shares West’s favorable view of Trump. But she said that her “track record and my platform” are very visible and speak for themselves and “Kanye is supporting that.”
Hours before joining Chance at a Woodlawn rally — which West also attended — to discuss “gentrification and displacement,” Enyia talked about the many issues on which she and West agree.
“He’s talked about stop-and-frisk. He’s talked about criminal justice reform. He talked about extending mental health services in communities. He has talked about the need to invest economically in communities. He has talked about bringing some of his companies back to Chicago to create jobs,” she said.
“If you are in a leadership position and you recognize the circumstances we’re in — with huge population losses specifically in the black community at a clip of 250,000 over a 15-year time frame — you should spend time thinking about what are the ways someone who has amassed wealth can actually come back and invest.”
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.
On Tuesday, Enyia disclosed that she and Chance have already talked about the possibility of him performing at a Chicago concert with at least some of the proceeds donated to her campaign.
“That’s very probable. It just depends on the size and scope of the concert. But that’s one of the options that we now have available to us for fundraising, for getting signatures,” she said.
“We’re all about meeting people where they are . . . and whatever it takes to do that. If that’s meeting on 63rd and Cottage Grove to hold a public rally to talk about an issue that’s important to the community or doing a large concert, we are not lacking in creative ideas to get people engaged.”