The newest tag team in Chicago mayoral politics jumped on Toni Preckwinkle Friday, accusing the frontrunner of “taking on” the old boys club only “to become a part of it.”
One day after forging their politically potent, inter-generational partnership, Dorothy Brown and Amara Enyia put it to work in an attempt to blow a hole in Preckwinkle’s central argument: that she is a “boss” with the guts to use that strength to deliver for the average Joe.
In a joint interview with the Sun-Times, Enyia charged that Preckwinkle “consolidated power over decades” and “compromised to the point where it is indistinguishable between you and the things you claim you are against.”
Enyia pointed specifically to the $10,000 campaign contribution that Ald. Edward Burke (14th) allegedly muscled for Preckwinkle from a Burger King franchise owner; the $116,000 she raised at Burke’s home; and the sensitive Homeland Security job that Preckwinkle arranged for Burke’s son after a private meeting with the once-powerful alderman.
“It’s disingenuous to make a show of giving back money when you’ve accepted all of these things prior to running for the mayor’s seat,” Enyia said.
“It’s all part of accepting a system and culture of corruption because it works until it doesn’t. Now that Ald. Burke has been exposed — now that these ties to the … money raised has been exposed — it’s become politically toxic. Residents see through that.”
The Preckwinkle campaign declined to comment –– except to say that the candidate has returned all of the money contributed by or “affiliated” with Burke.
Enyia charged that Preckwinkle showed her “tacit acceptance of business as usual” by waiting until after Burke was charged with attempted extortion to demand that the city’s $100 million-a-year workers’ compensation program be removed from the City Council’s Finance Committee he ran for decades.
“In fact, there were other opportunities, such as calling out former Assessor Joe Berrios for the property tax system that unduly hurt lower-income and black and brown communities. Instead, she supported him strongly and vehemently,” Enyia said.
As circuit court clerk, Brown had a running feud with Preckwinkle on budget issues long before the county board president launched the petition challenge that knocked Brown off the ballot.
On Friday, Brown noted that the tainted donation allegedly muscled by Burke follows two other recent controversies: the firing of Preckwinkle’s chief of staff John Keller months after the county board president first heard what she calls “unsubstantiated rumors” about sexual harassment allegations against Keller, and the vehicle crash that prompted Preckwinkle to fire her security chief.
“Toni Preckwinkle is always apologizing and giving back things. That has been her history. Like her chief of security. She was the committeeman. He had no reason to have political literature in the county truck, which she also used to go to political events and changes the license plate so it looks like a private vehicle, which is also disingenuous,” Brown said.
Brown then referred to what she called the “lives Toni has ruined who I know personally” with the budget cuts she ordered after taking office.
“John Stroger made sure no one got laid off. Todd Stroger even made sure no one got laid off. But when Toni Preckwinkle took office, I had to lay off over 60 people because she would not let us balance that budget in any other way than to see blood. I thought that was horrible,” Brown said.
“Even in the health insurance she took away from the judges. Some of them had family members who had sicknesses. It was that kind of [cold] heart that I have a problem with. We do not need that here in Chicago.”
This week, Brown threw her formidable support behind Enyia and vowed to “go to the mat” to help her forge a multi-generational coalition between Brown’s older, church-based following and Enyia’s appeal to younger, disenchanted voters with help from Chance the Rapper.
Delmarie Cobb, an African-American political consultant who worked for Brown’s 2012 re-election campaign, declared Preckwinkle the big loser because she needs those same older black women voters who have stuck with Brown despite a federal corruption scandal into allegations of job and promotion selling in the clerk’s office.
Friday’s tag-team attack shows the power of the Brown-Enyia partnership long before voters go to the polls.