Preckwinkle says Lightfoot’s $200K donation to self undermines reform reputation

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Lori Lightfoot (left) and Toni Preckwinkle | Sun-Times file photos

Lori’s Lightfoot’s decision to make a $200,000 contribution to her own campaign gave Toni Preckwinkle an opening Thursday to brand her runoff opponent as a “millionaire corporate lawyer” masquerading as a reformer.

Preckwinkle raised $5.4 million in Round One of the mayoral sweepstakes and has $4.7 million in the bank for the April 2 runoff. Lightfoot raised just $1.64 million and has $730,940 left to spend. But that didn’t stop the Preckwinkle campaign from trying to use Lightfoot’s $200,000 donation to herself to get down and dirty.

“Is this the type of principled reform Lori Lightfoot thinks Chicago is looking for? Where candidates can dump as much of their wealth as they want into a campaign instead of work to build grassroots support?” Preckwinkle campaign spokesperson Monica Trevino was quoted as saying in a statement.

“Corporate lawyer Lori Lightfoot doesn’t get it, because she’s a corporate lawyer who has taken the side of big special interests who would pay her big fees to do their dirty work.”

Lightfoot accused the Preckwinkle campaign of “trying to sully my reputation with a bunch of lies and half-truths” just two days into the five-week runoff campaign.

“I’m not gonna roll around in the mud with her,” Lightfoot said.

“Every single day, we get deluged from Washington D.C. with a divisive leader who spews hatred, who tries to paint anybody who has a different point of view as a public enemy. We don’t need that kind of rhetoric here in Chicago and certainly not at this critical time when we ought to be talking to people about hope and aspiration and how we can bring people together.”

Lightfoot called the $200,000 donation to herself “old news” that happened six weeks ago. She noted that the contribution didn’t lift the caps on campaign contributions for all candidates in the race for mayor. Millionaire businessman Willie Wilson had already done that with a $100,000 contribution to himself.

As for the “millionaire” label, Lightfoot made no apologies for the wealth she has accumulated as a partner at one of Chicago’s biggest law firms.

“My parents worked themselves to the bone every damned day so I could have a better life. And I am never, ever, ever going to be embarrassed or shirk from the fact that, because of my parents’ sacrifices, I was able to create opportunity for myself and I’m gonna create the same kind of opportunity for my daughter,” Lightfoot said.

“If Toni Preckwinkle and her people think they’re gonna try to demonize me for being a kid from a working class family who did well, I’ll have that fight all day long.”

Lightfoot noted that, since finishing first Tuesday in a field of 14, she raised over $110,000 from “unsolicited donations” to her website. Other people are “stepping up to the plate,” she said.

“I think we’re gonna have the resources we need to be successful,” Lightfoot said.

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