The new super PAC created to re-elect Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his City Council allies has raked in nearly $2.4 million since its June launch, thanks to a new round of donations from business titans, philanthropists and organized labor.
The new quarterly filing with the State Board of Elections shows that “Chicago Forward” has added more than $1 million to its previous total of $1.35 million.
Six well-heeled Chicagoans gave the super PAC $100,000: Laura Arnold, Mark Gallogly, Mark Lampert, Stephen Malkin, Joe Mansueto and Muneer Satter.
The super PAC received $50,000 donations from: James Litinsky, Michael Sacks, Cari Sacks, Sara Crown Star and Sam Zell. Mansueto and Michael Sacks are investors in Wrapports LLC, the parent company of the Chicago Sun-Times.
The $25,000 club includes: Berle Blitstein; David Bunning; Greg Phillips; John Simpson; IBEW Local 34 and Wal-Mart. UA Political Education Committee kicked in $10,000, along with former Exelon CEO John Rowe and Craig Duchossois, son of horse-racing magnate Richard Duchossois. Several of those on the new list made previous donations to “Chicago Forward.”
Becky Carrroll, the longtime mayoral ally now serving as chairman and CEO of “Chicago Forward,” said the new round of fundraising will ensure that the super PAC has the money it needs to ensure that Emanuel has even less City Council resistance if he’s re-elected to a second term.
“This reflects strong support for the issues we’re advocating from both labor and business, which will provide us with the resources needed to effectively engage voters and support strong leadership at City Hall that share our commitment to continuing to move Chicago forward for families, neighborhoods and businesses,” Carroll said.
“We’re finalizing our strategy and planning for this cycle. It’s going to include a number of tools, such as TV, radio, mail, phones and digital, which will help us communicate our message effectively to voters and be pro-active in doing so. We haven’t taken any formal steps to support candidates for any office yet. But those are decisions we are evaluating currently and intend to take action on sooner rather than later in this cycle.”
Carroll was asked whether any of the money would be used to trash Ald. Bob Fioretti (2nd), who has declared his candidacy for mayor, or Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis, who is thinking about running.
Emanuel is bound by law to follow the state’s fundraising limits of $5,300 from individuals; $10,500 from corporations, labor organizations or associations and $52,600 from candidate political action committees or PAC’s.
Chicago Forward, by contrast, can raise unlimited funds, but is barred by law from coordinating with the Emanuel campaign.
“Our primary goal is to advocate for issues and identify those seeking office at City Hall who embrace those issues and advocate on their behalf. We may also decide to go on the offense when it comes to some candidates, but those decisions have simply not been made yet,” she said, noting that the super PAC would continue to raise money right on through the Feb. 24 election and the April 7 run-offs.
Last month, Chicago Forward took its first concrete step to identify aldermanic candidates it considers worthy of its endorsement.
Carroll sent out a questionnaire to 53 aldermanic candidates who have formed campaign fundraising committees and filed so-called D-1 forms with the Illinois State Board of Elections.
The six question — all requiring “yes” or “no” answers by Sept. 2 — cut to the heart of Emanuel’s agenda to solve the city’s $20 billion pension crisis, reshape Chicago Public Schools, raise the minimum wage and rebuild Chicago’s aging infrastructure.
Although a 56 percent surcharge tacked on to monthly telephone bills staved off a pre-election property tax hike, a foreboding question No. 1 asked candidates if they would be willing to support “tough, but necessary steps, such as increases in property taxes or additional efficiencies throughout city government” to further reduce the city’s structural deficit and “preserve critical services.”
The second and third questions cut to the chase of education issues that could dominate the mayoral campaign, particularly if Lewis enters the race.
The first asked aldermanic candidates whether they are prepared to support “high-quality school choices for families that include neighborhood, charter, IB, STEM, magnet and selective enrollment schools.” The second asked whether they favor an elected school board, even though some “believe this would further politicize our city’s public education system.” The question makes no mention of the fact that Lewis and Ald. Bob Fioretti (2nd), another possible mayoral challenger, are champions of an elected school board.
The three remaining questions asked candidates whether they support: Emanuel’s plan to raise Chicago’s minimum wage to $13 an hour by 2018; tougher laws to help “prevent illegal guns from entering our city and hold those accountable who sell these guns”; the mayor’s plan to create jobs and rebuild Chicago’s aging infrastructure with tools that include tax-increment-financing (TIF), tax credits and other incentives.”
Lewis and Fioretti want to raise Chicago’s minimum wage to $15 an hour.
Fioretti has denounced “Chicago Forward” as a thinly veiled effort to stifle dissent by “taking out” eight aldermen in the City Council’s Progressive Caucus who have dared to stand up to Emanuel.
The Progressive Caucus includes Fioretti and seven colleagues: Leslie Hairston (5th), Roderick Sawyer (6th), Toni Foulkes (15th), Ricardo Munoz (22nd), Scott Waguespack (32nd); Nick Sposato (36th) and John Arena (45th).
Chicago Forward was created in late June in a move viewed as a shot across the bow at Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, who has since ruled out a race for mayor.
A prolific fundraiser, Emanuel continues to raise money at a frenzied pace in hopes of scaring off potential challengers who view him as vulnerable because of his 29 percent approval rating and single-digit support among African-American voters, according to a Sun-Times poll.
The mayor already has $8.3 million-and-counting in his primary political fund. But he’s expected to add millions to that amount in his next quarterly filing as a show of force.
Blitstein is an executive with Crown Packaging International. Gallogly is managing principal of Centerbridge Partners. Gray is the owner of Gbar Partnership. Lampert is a fund manager at BVF Partners, LP. Litinsky is a managing member and chief information officer at JHL Capital.
Malkin is president of Ranger Capital Management. Mansueto is CEO of Morningstar, Inc. Phillips and Simpson work at Broadhaven Capital. Sacks is CEO of Grosvenor Capital Management and Emanuel’s close friend, business adviser and vice-chairman of World Business Chicago. Star is an attorney at Henry Crown & Co. And Zell is the former Chicago Tribune owner and chairman of Equity Group Investments.