Paul Vallas likes to carry a broom to symbolize his pledge to sweep out the corruption epitomized by the burgeoning scandal that threatens to bring down the City Council’s two most powerful aldermen: Edward Burke (14th) and Danny Solis (25th).
Now, Vallas is bringing his favorite show-and-tell prop to his first television commercial of the mayoral campaign — just in time for a final-week blitz.
The 30-second spot that the Vallas campaign hopes to be the subject of a $500,000 home-stretch buy is titled “Clean Sweep.”
It begins with a shot of a floor littered with dollar bills; the floor is in a lobby that looks a lot like City Hall. The camera pans the floor and stops with a close-up shot of the broom.
Vallas is then seen holding a boom and sweeping up the cash.
Next is Vallas driving down the street, smiling and waving as everyday Chicagoans wave back, also carrying brooms. The spot closes with Vallas standing in Daley Center plaza, waving his favorite broom in front of a cheering crowd — also bearing brooms.
“There’s nothing Chicago politicians fear more than this broom,” the former Chicago Public Schools CEO says in the ad.
“I’m Paul Vallas. And I’ll sweep out the money that has corrupted City Hall. I’ll invest in schools, fighting crime and creating jobs. I’m running for mayor to sweep out the Chicago machine and to invest in people — and not corrupt politicians. I have the experience, the solutions and the tools to do it. Join us in cleaning up City Hall—for all Chicagoans.”
Vallas is running ninth out of 14 in the fundraising sweepstakes, with just under $1 million in contributions. He has roughly $240,000 in cash on hand.
That’s compared to $6.1 million raised and $4.1 million left for fundraising frontrunner Bill Daley; $4 million, with $3.3 million still in the bank for Toni Preckwinkle and $2.6 million and $2.2 million left for Gery Chico.
Still, Vallas’ goal is to spend $500,000 on the commercial buy — enough to saturate the airwaves in the final week on both cable and commercial television.
There’s also an enticing twist to boost Vallas’ presence on social media: a “broom challenge” asking Chicagoans who agree with him about the need to “sweep away corruption” to join in the crusade by “posting pictures of themselves holding up brooms in solidarity.”
In a press release announcing the long-awaited media buy, Vallas talks about the four “machine money fed” mayoral candidates with the closest ties to Burke: Preckwinkle, Chico, Daley and Susana Mendoza.
“They are frontrunners because the political machine decides which insiders gets millions of dollars or TV, and which outsiders do not. As difficult as it is for me to raise money, I’m glad I’m the outsider,” Vallas is quoted as saying of the so-called “Burke Four.”
“Chicagoans are ready for someone not beholden to the Machine and willing to do the hard work of cleaning up our corrupt political culture in order to invest in our people.”
Vallas’ “Clean Sweep” commercial is the second of the mayoral campaign to target City Hall corruption since Burke was charged with attempted extortion.
The Chicago Sun-Times subsequently disclosed that Solis spent more than two years wearing a wire to help the feds build their corruption case against the former chairman of the City Council’s Finance Committee.
Last week, mayoral candidate Lori Lightfoot hit the airwaves with another corruption-based spot, titled, “Light.”
It opens in a dark room with a door cracked open; a headline reads: “Candidates try distancing from Ed Burke after corruption charges.”
The camera then pans to an empty table of four as pictures of mayoral candidates Gery Chico, Toni Preckwinkle, Susana Mendoza and Bill Daley run above another headline: “All tied to Chicago machine.”
A finger flips the light switch and in walks Lightfoot.
Burke has been charged with attempted extortion; he’s accused of shaking down a Burger King franchise owner for legal work and for a $10,000 contribution to Preckwinkle’s re-election campaign as county board president.
Preckwinkle has returned $116,000 at a January 2018 fundraiser at Burke’s house. She’s also struggled to explain why she hired his son — after a personal appeal from the alderman — for a sensitive Homeland Security job at a time when Burke Jr. was under investigation for investigation for sexually inappropriate conversations at the sheriff’s office.
Mendoza considers Burke a political mentor, was married at the alderman’s house and would not have been elected state representative or city clerk without his help.
She has purged herself of $141,550 in campaign contributions received over the years from Solis and from a debt collection firm founded by Solis’ sister and an attorney with close ties to Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan.
Chico is a longtime friend and political ally of Burke who got his start as chief of policy for the Burke-chaired Finance Committee during Council Wars.
And Bill Daley helped broker the political deal that restored Burke to the Finance Committee chairmanship he held during Council Wars after Burke agreed to drop his plan to run for mayor against Richard M. Daley.