Mendoza gets $100K campaign donation from part owner of clout-heavy scrap yard
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NOTE:This story has been updated to include the correct title of Howard Labkon.
A part owner of a clout-heavy scrap yard has contributed $100,000 to the mayoral campaign of Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza.
Howard Labkon and other members of the Labkon family, the current owners of General Iron Industries, have lathered local politicians with $825,215 in campaign contributions in recent years. The beneficiaries include Mayor Rahm Emanuel and a parade of Chicago aldermen.
The family also has employed an armada of clout-heavy lobbyists, including former Emanuel aide John Borovicka, former Hispanic Democratic Organization chieftain Victor Reyes and John R. Daley — son of County Commissioner John Daley and nephew of mayoral candidate Bill Daley as well as former Mayor Richard M. Daley.
The largesse apparently paid dividends last fall, when General Iron’s aldermanic allies beat back an attempt to revoke a waiver that has allowed the company to collect scrap metal 24-hours a day, start operating its shredders at 5 a.m., and keep them running until 10 p.m. Typically, scrap metal yards must cease operations at 9 p.m. and not start up again until 7 a.m. the next day.
General Iron is in Lincoln Park, next to the massive Lincoln Yards development. The company has announced plans to move operations to the Southeast Side, but not until 2020, making the waiver all the more important.
On Monday, Mendoza got a $100,000 contribution from Howard Labkon, who is listed in campaign disclosure documents as president and CEO of General Iron.
But Mendoza campaign spokeswoman Rebecca Evans said Monday evening that while the donation was received, Labkon’s status with the company was incorrectly stated and has since been corrected.
Randall Samborn, a spokesman for other members of the Labkon family, said the donation was made without the knowledge of the other members of the family, who run the business on a day-to-day basis.
“Howard Labkon is not, and never has been, the President of General Iron,” the statement said. In the past, Labkon and other members of the family — including his mother, who is the company president — have taken legal action against each other in regards to the company.
“Howard has an adversarial relationship with other members of the Labkon family, who manage General Iron,” Samborn said. “Howard’s contribution was not requested or authorized by the company or other members of the Labkon family.”
A late entry into the crowded race for mayor, Mendoza has not yet taken a position on the waiver. Nor has she weighed in on a proposal by local aldermen Brian Hopkins (2nd), Scott Waguespack (32nd) and Michele Smith (43rd) to build a 24-acre park on assembled property not owned by Lincoln Yards developer Sterling Bay — property that includes the General Iron scrapyard.
Emanuel has pledged $800 million in tax-increment financing for infrastructure improvements tied to the Lincoln Yards project.
Hopkins wants up to $200 million in park funding included in the list of projects bankrolled by TIF funding.